Revamped Spartigras draws large crowds

Students trickled into the Thwing Ballroom on Saturday night and spread out across the room for Spartigras. They were drawn towards the cotton candy station, shaved ice machine and the chance to throw darts at balloons.

The balloon station held a particular fascination due to its surprising difficulty. The darts would glance around the balloons or fail to puncture the rubber despite being right on target. Students gathered in small groups around the board as a respite from a busy Orientation Week that doubled as a chance to try to impress their new friends.

Spartigras is the annual end-of-Orientation Week carnival that serves as an opportunity for students to meet the members of the University Media Board (UMB). (The Observer is a member of UMB).

Planning for the event began in May. UMB Chair Jahlyn Reyes-McKinley said work started early to finalize contracts and ensure the necessary equipment arrived to create the right experience for incoming first-year students.

“We wanted it to be a fun addition to Orientation Week,” said Reyes-McKinley. “[We] wanted to create an event that was fun for freshmen and that if you see it you’d have an opportunity to play games and fall in love with our [organizations].”

They filled the Thwing Center with booths from groups like the Athenian and WRUW. The team created a raffle requiring students to receive stickers from organizations’ booths for entry.

“Some of the booths were a little crowded, but that was to be expected,” said Marissa Lahr, a first-year student. “[The party atmosphere] made everyone more comfortable and that way you could just go up to groups and start talking to people.”

Other highlights included the Case Western Reserve University Footlighters first floor karaoke booth. Olivia Laniak, a first-year student and music major, said that while she and a friend came for funnel cakes, they stayed for the fun. She completed a rousing rendition of Sia’s “Chandelier” and left the room to a decently sized ovation before heading back out into the rest of the event.

Some students, despite enjoying the event, felt the event’s structure made it difficult to interact with UMB members.

“I’d prefer to meet (UMB student organizations) in a non-party environment in the future because it’s kind of hard to focus with all the stuff going on around,” said first-year student Jose Koluder-Ramirez.

Despite his misgivings, Koulder-Ramirez still enjoyed the event as a whole. He described the event as cool and said the UMB members seemed outgoing.

As the night came to a close, the line for the mechanical bull in the Thwing Atrium slowly diminished. As of 9:35 p.m., roughly 620 people had entered through the backdoor of Thwing, putting attendance estimates from incoming first-years above 650 people.

Reyes-McKinley said UMB is considering expanding the event next year to accommodate the large public interest.