Angela Andrews, Contributing Writer
This past Saturday marked UD’s 50th annual celebration of a holiday not widely recognized outside of Punxsutawney, Pa., and the Weather Channel: Groundhog Day.
The Offices of Student Life and Advancement teamed up to ensure that this year’s Party in the Park would be the most successful yet, planning a bigger and better Groundhog than ever before.
High attendance was anticipated from both the student body as well as the alumni population. Nearly 1,800 students and alumni turned out for Saturday night’s festivities, some alumni opting for the party in the Rat but the lion’s share heading out to the park.
The coordinators of this year’s Party in the Park sought to address the main complaints from last year’s Groundhog, such as the length of the lines for food and beer, the scarcity of bathrooms, and overcrowding.
The park was expanded for this year’s event, and more facilities added.
The food lines, though long, moved more quickly and had more supplies to offer, with 1,700 hot dogs, 1,700 burgers and 1,500 s’mores.
There were also 35 kegs of beer, a marked increase from last year’s mere 18, though the beer lines were highly chaotic during rush periods.
Though Student Life didn’t plan it, the weather was also fantastic, a sunny day perfect for rugby, baseball, powderpuff and other outdoor activities.
The nighttime temperatures hovered around the mid-50s, but everyone was kept warm by the many fires and his or her Groundhog sweatshirts. The grey three-quarter zips that sported a Benjamin Franklin quote on the back were a departure from the past years’ choice of either a long sleeve t-shirt or a hooded sweatshirt, and most students and alumni liked the look of them.
The sweatshirts were both a souvenir for attendees, as well as the ticket into the park, and the hundreds of students and alumni turned the park into a sea of grey as they gathered around the fires, food, and stage.
The Wizards Teacup, a student band featuring the Groundhog King Danny Fitzpatrick ‘13, popular cover band High Definition, and the Celtic rock group Scythian played the night away as students and alums danced, talked and drank.
The Park opened early for alums, letting them party on before being joined by students later in the night, and allowing alumni to bring their kids with them to the park.
“You should be grateful for Groundhog, because you wouldn’t be here without it,” said one alum to his six-year-old son.
“Groundhog is where we met, just to clarify,” quickly added his wife.
Many alumni, especially from the classes of the 1980s, were surprised to see security and rules in place, beginning their sentences with “When it was Under-Groundhog…”
But by the end, most agreed that this was the most fun they’d had in a while, the consensus being “What a night!”
It will be hard to outdo this year, but the countdown for the 51st Groundhog begins today.