When asked to describe how he views University of Dallas’ Groundhog Day celebration, the second largest in the nation, sophomore Angelo Novello answered with:
“It’s [freaking] goofy.”
Students and alumni piled in the Madonna basketball courts for Groundhog at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4. They began greeting their friends with smiles and hugs, which immediately established a powerful sense of community and friendship that perfectly embodied the atmosphere of the night.
Crusaders gathered together at this event to eat good food, make s’mores, sing along to live music, and enjoy each other’s company and conversation.
The live music featured student band Whistle Pig, cover band High Definition and headliner band Green River Ordinance. All three bands received an enthusiastic response from the crowd.
“[The] University of Dallas does a great job of putting this all together so we can really bond and celebrate an incredible tradition that is so unique to UD,” senior Student Body President Karmina Martinez said.
Freshmen especially enjoyed their first experience of the Groundhog event.
Relatively new to the UD community, freshmen understood the true meaning of UD tradition as they met alumni who still return to campus to participate in what is often considered the highlight of the spring semester.
Freshman Will Rackers, who identified himself as “not the party type,” enjoyed the Groundhog celebration.
“I did not expect to have this much fun, to be honest,” Rackers said. “But this night has been great. It’s fabulous. It’s UD. I feel very united to everyone who is wearing the same sweatshirt that I am.”
The sense of unity at Groundhog encouraged students who would not normally enter a large crowd to be comfortable and have a great time, emphasizing the UD family.
It was a very special night for seniors as well, who had bittersweet feelings toward the recognition that this was their last Groundhog as an undergraduate.
“It’s a little sentimental, but at the same time, you kind of live in the moment,” Mary White said when asked how she felt about her senior-year Groundhog. “I’m hopeful that next year I’ll be back.”
Because Groundhog is a well-loved tradition, every student is affected by it, whether the student is from the class of ’02 or ’20.
“A lot of ‘return to the community that you once knew’ is why all these alumni come back to Groundhog,” White said.
Senior Elizabeth Paschall had similar views of her “last” Groundhog.
“I think it’s my best experience ever,” Paschall said. “The community and friendship is amazing.”
Towards the end of the night, the stage area began to fill with undergraduates and alumni alike for a good time of singing and swaying.
In the crowd, the students hugged and sang with one another, regardless of whether they knew each other; that night, everyone was family.
When Green River Ordinance began playing Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” students were invited to join the band on the stage to sing along and wave their hands in the air.
“At UD, we’re just so small that we can experience music in a very intimate way,” Andrew Maal, a freshman who made it onto the stage, said. “What better way to celebrate music than to get up there ourselves?”
It is safe to say that the 2017 Groundhog was a huge success.
“The music was amazing, the friends were better, and the time we spent together [was] just the best,” Maal said.
At the end of the night, Martinez perfectly embodied the spirit of Groundhog in one sentence: “I don’t always drink, but when I do, it’s Groundhog!”