Despite the cloudy skies last Friday, purple and gold balloons still lined the streets of West Chester University. Small globes were passed around campus and Sykes Student Union flowed with festivity in celebration of Spirit Day 2005, themed as “Spirit Around the World.” “I actually did not know it was Spirit Day until I got to school and saw all the balloons,” said student Rachel Armstrong. “Is this the first year West Chester is having Spirit Day?” To answer this question, Spirit Day has occurred in the past, but it has never been this big.This year, commercials played on WCU-TV prior to Spirit Day. One commercial featured West Chester University cheerleaders and another featured President Adler dressed as WCU?s ram mascot. “We didn?t realize how big of a deal it?d be to put her in a ram costume until about a week before,” said Padraic Maroney, who took part in the commercial.
The day kicked off when about 50 students gathered in Hollinger field to have an aerial photograph taken of them in the formation of the letters “WCU.”
Mary Pat Spadaford, former vice president of the Student Government Association (SGA), was the brain behind the day?s events. Her last semester as an undergrad, she wanted to make this year bigger than any other. “Up until this point, Spirit Day had just been SGA putting balloons up,” said Maroney, Spadaford?s cocoordinator in planning the day?s events.
Spirit Day began as a predominantly SGA-run event, but this year Spadaford said the group wanted a lot of student organizations to come together in order to promote unity. Other organizations were asked to take part in the planning and execution. “One, we don?t have the money; two, we don?t have the manpower; and frankly, it?s Spirit Day, so many should be involved,” said Maroney. “It was a case of we got the ball rolling: from there every-one kind of ran with it.”
“We wanted an international theme, hence the Spirit Around the World,” said Spadaford. A globe was drawn on the sidewalk in front of Main Hall to remind students of the festivities. Purple and gold Hawaiian leis were handed out by Off Campus and Commuter Association (OCCA), which read “SOCCA?n up the sun.”
“[Spirit Day] will give students something to look at to say that they were a part of at West Chester University,” said Kevin Foster, former president of SGA. A Spirit Day student organization fair was held in the ballrooms, and in which several organizations each represented a different country. OCCA had a Polynesian table with pineapple and ham pizza, The Quad gave out Jamaican jerk chicken, and the History Club provided tea to represent England. A steel drum band also performed in the ballrooms during the organization fair.
Meetings to plan the all-day event began in February. As a precursor for the event, student organizations participated in a banner contest. The banners were displayed on the walkway of Sykes on Spirit Day. The winner of the banner contest was the Black Student Union, and they will receive a trophy to honor them as the “Most Spirited Organization.” “I think the amount of par-ticipation we got with the banners was amazing,” said Spadaford. “Spirit day is a day to bring the campus unity together,” said Matt Forur, president of WCUTV. Forur, among others, were up in the early hours of the morning to prepare for the day. “A lot of dedicated students got up at 6 a.m. to hang balloons,” said Spadaford.
“Without any one organization, it wouldn?t have been what it would be,” said Maroney. Other events of the day included pig roasts outside of Sanderson and Wayne Halls, picture postcards printed in Sykes lobby, pictures with Ramses, WCU?s live ram mascot, a Student Activities Council (SAC) sponsored bungee trampoline, a spring football game, the Black and Latino Greek Council (BLGC) step show and Field of Dreams by Inter-Greek Council (IGC), among several other events.
Field of Dreams raised $35,000 to benefit Camp Dreamcatcher, a camp for children whose lives have been affected by HIV or AIDS. The Greeks raised money selling T-shirts and food and held the large event in Hollinger Field House. The event included inflatables and live music by Long Shot Hero, Back of the Bus and WCU?s gospel choir. Students had various opinions of the day?s festivities. “I wore my West Chester University T-shirt,” said student Courtney Lange.
“I?m looking forward to the salsa lessons by LASO,” said student Gary Salas. “I will be doing nothing to celebrate Spirit Day because I just do not care. I am tired and want to get out of West Chester,” said Armstrong.
Other contributors to Spirit Day included Christina Brenner, Jeff Gerstein, Megan Kerrigan, Marion McKinney, Mary Alice Ozechoski and Dave Timmann, among many others.
“Despite the weather, we had a really good turnout,” said Maroney. “It was really a case of the organizations banding together and uniting to show their spirit.