May 16, 2003

Summer Breeze marked by weekend of festivities

The sunny skies and warm front that are expected this weekend will push out lingering clouds and cool temperatures, setting the atmosphere for Summer Breeze, the annual two-day outdoor festival sponsored by the Major Activities Board (MAB) and the Council on University Programming (COUP).

This weekend's concert caps several months of preparation by MAB and COUP, who worked in tandem to secure contracts for food vendors, entertainment, DJs, and student organizations in hopes of making this year's festival better than ever.

"I think it's an awesome part of student life," said Emily Lales, a fourth-year in the College and co-chair of the Summer Breeze Committee. "I think this event brings a lot of great organizations together and gives them the opportunity to relax and have fun in a place known for its dreariness."

Summer Breeze will kick off at 9 p.m. on Friday with a Doc screening on the quads of the wacky summer camp comedy Wet Hot American Summer. Directly following the movie, at roughly 11 p.m., the Classics quad will be transformed into an all-night party.

On Saturday, the main quads will become a frenzy of carnival-like activity, including a mechanical bull, a hypnotist, character artists, and food provided by a variety of local restaurants. Several Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs) will also participate in fundraising efforts throughout the day such as dunk tanks and food booths.

In a special performance, Steve Klass, vice president and dean of students in the University, will play the bass with his band at 12:45 p.m. on the quads. Klass' band The Reunion Band, will treat audience members to a selection of alternative rock, covering songs from such bands as U2 and Delirious.

"It's always great to be able to give back," Klass said. "I watch what students do and what they are passionate about all the time, and to give back and to say here's something I like to do outside of my position is very special."

Saturday's events will culminate with a live concert featuring OK Go, Talib Kweli, and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. The concert will take place in Hutchinson courtyard and will begin at 6 p.m.

Although contract negotiations took longer than in past years, the concert was arranged without any substantial problems, and student organizers are enthusiastic about the diverse and talented artists appearing at this year's Summer Breeze.

"I've met a lot of people who were excited about the lineup this year," said Donour Sizemore, a fourth-year in the College and the chairman of MAB. "I've been hearing quite a few people say 'it's about time.'"

Although ticket sales have been lower than expected, student officials believe that many students are waiting to buy their tickets until the last minute.

As weather is always an important concern for the outdoor festival, both University and student officials have been closely monitoring the forecast for this weekend. All reports indicate that it will be warm and sunny.

Still, organizers have prepared backup plans in the event of rain, though they were quick to point out that it has never rained on Summer Breeze. Should the weather be unfavorable, the Doc movie will be moved to Saturday, the dance party to Hutchinson Commons, and the concert to Mandel Hall, while the Saturday carnival stands to be the most disrupted.

"We'll do everything we can to try and accommodate the carnival," said Lori Hurvitz, assistant director of student activities. "You can't put a bouncy castle inside a building."

Security is also an important issue with the administration--especially for events like the dance party and the concert--and police will be present to help deal with any potentially dangerous situations. Alcohol is firmly prohibited.

In spite of their precaution, organizers and administrators are confident that Summer Breeze will be a secure event. "It has not been a problem in the past and I don't anticipate anything happening this year," Hurvitz said.

The University instituted Summer Breeze in 1993 to replace Sleepout, the all-night party on the quads every spring when students would pitch tents to ensure good spots in the registration lottery. After several hospital incidents involving drunken students, the administration implemented a more efficient registration system based on year in the College and cancelled Sleepout.

Many colleges have springtime celebrations near the end of their academic year that vary in their level of elaborateness and student participation. Officials believe that the University's event is comparable to many of those found at most other academic institutions, but say that there is no set model for this type of activity.

"Some other schools charge money for the kinds of events that we have on the quads," Hurtvitz said. "But our activities are completely free."

The exceptions to this are some of the food vendors and the concert on Saturday night, which is $10 for students with UCID and $20 for faculty, staff, and Lab School students.