On weekend nights the University comes alive and the campus becomes littered with hundreds of red Solo cups and empty beer cans. However, on Saturday, April 24, students woke up to discarded boxes and bags of wine instead—the remains of the 2010 Tour de Franzia, an event whose name was inspired by the Tour de France.
For this annual event, costume-wearing participants form groups of three and have to document themselves drinking from their team box of Franzia at ten or more locations around campus. This year’s list included at/in a fountain, in your freshman dorm, on a stranger’s shoulders, the highest point on campus, the ST lab, Neon Deli, Michael Roth’s house, and Mocon.
Not everyone was pleased with the locations on the list.
“Public Safety actually called and asked the beginning house to not put the President’s house and Mocon [on the list]” said an anonymous student. “But they actually changed the list saying there were extra points if you broke in[to Mocon].”
Although the Tour de France is completed on bicycle and students competing in the University counterpart trek—or stumble—on foot, there are a number of noteworthy parallels.
In the 2009 Tour de France, competitor Jens Voigt lost control of his bike and sustained a concussion, broken orbital bone and required stitches. In this year’s Tour de Franzia, a student had a similarly harrowing experience.
“At some point during the night, I fell out of a tree,” said an anonymous student who participated in the event. “I woke up with a lot of bruises and scrapes. I know other people who got some injuries too.”
According to Bicycling Magazine, teams in the Tour de France consume approximately 42,000 bottles of water over the course of the race. According to Metro Spirits, one of Middletown’s liquor stores, 332 boxes of Franzia were purchased in the two days preceding the Wesleyan event—the equivalent of 1,660 liters.
In 2009, scandal struck the Tour de France when the runner-up in the race, Danilo di Luca, tested positive for drugs and was suspended for two years after being stripped of his title.
In this year’s Tour de Franzia, there were rumors of foul play as well, but not among the players.
“I heard Capital Liquor was telling people that we were out of boxed wine,” said Bruce, an employee at Metro Liquor.
Further comparisons can be drawn regarding the prizes awarded to the victors of each Tour: the winner of the Tour de France receives 450,000 euros, which is the equivalent to 593,190 dollars or roughly 42,401 boxes of Franzia.
Completing the Wesleyan competition, however, has its own rewards.
“I asked students what they get for all of their efforts,” said Louie Loffredo of Metro Liquor. “I was told bragging rights.”
While bragging rights and a night of revelry may be the driving force for most students, competitors can feel good knowing that they are doing their part to help the environment.
“Franzia wine tap packages results in a significantly smaller carbon footprint and less packaging waste than heavy glass bottles,” the official Franzia website wrote. “We are proud of what we are doing and we plan do more.”