Spring Weekend from a senior perspective 

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Nini Ly, a sixth-semester fine arts major, inspects her wares at the Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival on April 22, 2022 in the Student Union Ballroom. Photo courtesy of the author

The last time the iconic, schedule packed Spring Weekend took place at the University of Connecticut  was in 2019. Therefore, the only class of students on campus that have experienced Spring Weekend before is that of the graduating seniors. Many reminisced on the 2019 event whilst attending 2022’s edition and enjoyed the opportunity to come full circle before graduation. 

“I’m so glad I got to experience Spring Weekend one last time,” Sruthi Takillapati, an eighth-semester physiology and neurobiology major, said.  

This year, April 21 to 23, UConn students experienced the tradition in full-force, with a schedule of over 20 affiliated events. Traditional events hosted by on-campus and national organizations returned, such as Fresh Check Day, the Student Alumni Association’s OOzeball, the Residence Hall Association’s UConnapalooza, the Student Union Board of Governors’ (SUBOG) Food Truck Festival, UConn Rock Ensemble’s Sound of Storrs and the Japanese Student Association’s Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival. New events such as Curlfest hosted by UConn Curls and SUBOG and bubble soccer proved to be popular with the crowds. 

“This spring weekend was such a delight and gave me back some of that pre-covid spirit i feel like has been missing.”

Jessica Berry

“This Spring Weekend was such a delight and gave me back some of that pre-COVID spirit I feel like has been missing,” Jessica Berry, an eighth-semester nursing major, said. “Seeing everybody out and about at all the events was so refreshing.” 

Thursday, April 21, featured the Spring Weekend kickoff with Empower and Four Arrows on the Student Union Lawn with free Spring Weekend T-shirts, free burgers from Lizzie’s Curbside and free assorted ice cream scoops from the Dairy Bar. SUBOG screened movies in the SU Theatre throughout the weekend. 

“As a college student I take my opportunity to get free things very seriously, so I tried to get to as many of the events as I could, including getting s’mores kits and watching a movie on the lawn, attending the delicious food truck festival and taking home some fave foods like samosas and cupcakes, getting a Spring Weekend tee and enjoying some yummy [yakisoba] from the beautiful Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival,” Berry said. 

The Blue/White football game, originally scheduled for April 21, was instead played on Friday, April 22, which also featured Curlfest on Fairfield Way and various late night events including a silent disco hosted by the university’s National Pan-Hellenic Council. Student Activities hosted its weekly s’mores event on the SU patio firepit, which students could grab before venturing over to the lawn to enjoy a movie outdoors. JSA’s Sakura Matsuri also took place throughout the night in the Student Union Ballroom. 

Break dancing club performs at Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival on April 22, 2022 in the Student Union Ballroom. Photo courtesy of the author

“I really enjoyed the Cherry Blossom Festival,” Takillapati said. “It was great seeing my peers come together to create such an incredible event with great food, performances and entertainment!” 

The ballroom was aptly decorated for the event, with the titular flowers dressing the walls and serving as the backdrop for an instant photo photobooth. Various Asian American Student Associations and clubs related to Japanese culture tabled at the event, selling food and hosting activities. The Nintendo Club allowed attendees to play Super Smash Bros. on the provided Nintendo Switch and TV, while other tables sold scallion pancakes, white chocolate matcha cookies and shrimp chips. 

“I love cherry blossoms so much they’re one of my favorite parts about spring!” Celia Chacko, an eighth-semester mechanical engineering major, said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but it was so fun to experience the culture, try new foods and see some awesome performances. I especially enjoyed getting to explore the booths and that there were independent artists with goodies and really cute items for sale!” 

JSA also provided free food while it lasted, including yakisoba, pickled plum or salmon onigiri and Japanese fried chicken. Students milled around until groups like Wushu, JSA, the break dancing club and the kendo club performed on stage. 

Student artists sold print art, stickers, buttons and more at their booths at the festival, including Nini Li, a sixth-semester fine arts major with an illustration/animation concentration, and Chelsea See, an eighth-semester art major. Li features her art on various social media platforms as @banh.ni and online at banhniart.com, while See goes by @starmint_art and sells on starmintart.com

“i love cherry blossoms so much they’re one of my favorite parts about spring! i didn’t know what to expect, but it was so fun to experience the culture, try new foods and see some awesome performances. i especially enjoyed getting to explore the booths and that there were independent artists with goodies and really cute times for sale.”

Celia Chacko

Saturday was chock full of action-packed events like the highly-anticipated OOzeball tournament, with over 1,500 participants playing volleyball in the muddy courts behind North. 

“I’m glad I was able to find my shoe after I lost it in the mud in OOzeball!” Takillapati, who played with fellow seniors, said. 

In the center of campus, students could check out the Black Students Association’s Black Arts Exhibit in the SU Ballroom, UConnapalooza down on Fairfield Way, Fresh Check Day on the SU Lawn, Sounds of Storrs on the Fairfield Way stage and the Food Truck Festival on the closed-down Hillside Road. I feature the Food Truck Festival in a special edition of Hollieats, also published today. 

Dating back to the ‘60s, Spring Weekend notoriously developed into a chaotic tradition that drastically changed after Jafar Karzoun’s death at the event in 2010, who was a sixth-semester student at the time. The intense “lockdown” measures imposed during the traditional weekend in 2011 to prevent such escalation, especially at the hands of non-UConn students, have eased up since. However, some of the measures still persist for the safety of the community, like the requirement of Spring Weekend bracelets, which may only be obtained with an active UConn ID. Spring Weekend’s raucous history seemed to not have negatively impacted students’ experiences in 2022 — some not even aware of the fatality — and the event occurred without incident this year. 

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