MayFest 2011 : Event at Walnut Park becomes more accepted by students
UPDATED: May 1, 2011, 11:15 p.m.
Student participation increased at the second university-sanctioned MayFest in Walnut Park Friday, reflecting how the event is becoming more of a Syracuse University tradition.
Even with temperatures in the mid-50s and spurts of light rain, students were not deterred from Walnut. Students reported going to Walnut to see entertainment acts or going to the park before heading to Euclid Avenue, where the MayFest block party has traditionally been held independent of SU.
MayFest began at 1 p.m. and Student Association President Neal Casey said he saw more students present within the first half-hour this year than he did last year. Throughout the day 4,000 students visited Walnut, said Department of Public Safety Chief Tony Callisto. This number comes from the amount of food served, he said.
This was the first time guest passes were available for Walnut Park. Of the 350 available, 175 guest passes were sold as of Friday morning, Casey said. Other changes to MayFest included adding speakers into the areas reserved for alcoholic beverages and food. Guest passes could be bought for $20 in the Schine Box Office until 1 p.m. on Friday. Those with a guest pass needed to show a college ID card to enter the park.
Free food and drink were available throughout the event, including cheeseburgers, cotton candy and soda. For students 21 and older, beer was available. Students 21 and older received wristbands with removable tabs, which were good for four beers before 3 p.m. and for two beers after that time.
Live performances by Hoodie Allen, The Cataracs and SU freshman Guy Harrison began at approximately 1:45 p.m. All acts finished by 4:30 p.m.
Rahul Kallianpur, a sophomore biology major, said Hoodie Allen was a highlight of MayFest in Walnut Park.
‘He’s up and coming, he’s gonna be a big guy,’ he said.
Capt. Andrew Mrozienski of SU’s Department of Public Safety was stationed across the street from Marion Hall. He said people tried to move trash barrels to park closer to Walnut, but that they did not encounter any major security issues.
The incident-free event was the result of a combination of planning by city officials, the university and those who planned the event, Mrozienski said.
But the weather also played a part. The occasional rain deterred crowds and people acting out of hand, he said.
Jessica Santana, a senior accounting major, said she and her friends were having a good time even with the cold and rainy weather. But this year’s event didn’t live up to her expectations compared to previous MayFests because of the weather, Santana said. Last year, the weather for MayFest was sunny and in the low 70s.
‘This is not the worst weather Syracuse has ever experienced,’ Santana said. ‘My plans aren’t going to change because of the weather.’
Last year was the first year MayFest was held in Walnut Park. This year did not have the same amount of student outcry as in 2010, but students still reported being unhappy with the newly university-sanctioned tradition. Students were displeased with the fence lining the park’s perimeter, which was guarded by security officers checking student SUIDs upon entrance, as well as the space dividing the drinking and non-drinking sections.
Caitlin Pontrella, a senior architecture major, said she was disappointed with the way MayFest was arranged.
‘The whole process of getting in is obnoxious. Get in, get out — it doesn’t feel like a party, it feels restricted,’ Pontrella said.
Meanwhile, underage students were upset about being separated from their friends who were of age.
Christine McGrail, a senior education major, said being divided from her older friends was bothersome. McGrail said her older friends entered the beer section, only to come out shortly after to rejoin her in the underage section.
Hannah Cordell, a senior photojournalism major, offered a more positive take on the setup of MayFest. Cordell said she appreciates SU’s attempt at creating a comfortable environment for students for the event. Cordell said the university-sanctioned festivities at Walnut Park provided a ‘tamer’ alternative to parties on Euclid.
‘I feel a little bit more comfortable being in a school-sanctioned one because then you actually have some place to go in a safe environment,’ Cordell said. ‘You’re not worried about someone spilling beer on your clothes or things getting out of hand.’
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