This year, the University introduced Middletown Day, an event dedicated to integrating the University and Middletown communities. Located in the Freeman Athletic Center and taking place this past Saturday afternoon, festivities consisted of a variety of attractions, such as a bouncy castle, face painting, carnival games, and refreshment booths. The event culminated in a parade leading to the first-ever NESCAC nighttime football game.
According to Director of the Center for Community Partnership Catherine Lechowicz, weeks of planning went into organizing the festival.
“We had a bunch of different offices on campus as well as a couple of community members that started meeting to try and pull it together,” Lechowicz said. “And then when students got back on campus, we were able to include folks from the WSA as well as students from the student athletic advisory committee to try and plan the best way to organize the event.”
Middletown Day was created as a way to promote communication between the University and local residents. University clubs and sports teams volunteered to make the day as successful as possible.
“A lot of students from various athletic teams…help[ed] out with activities in the field house,” said Vice President for Finance and Administration John Meerts. “They…help[ed] with the face painting, bouncy house, and whatnot.”
University staff also participated, some of them performing in faculty bands such as The Mattabassett String Collective, which consists of Professor of Government and Environmental Studies Marc Eisner, Cataloguing Librarian Rebecca McCallum, Director of the College of the Environment Barry Chernoff, Academic Technology Coordinator for the Social Sciences Kevin Wiliarty, and Professor of Economics Gilbert Skillman.
Student bands Skybars, The New Group, and Molly Rocket and the Crooks also performed at the event.
“There’s nothing better than having people intermingle,” Meerts said. “If you want to bring town people on campus, which they usually don’t do all that much, [this event] promotes relationships…and makes them feel welcome. That’s really the intent, just community relationships.”
The event not only celebrated community but also highlighted some of the local talent on the football team.
“It seems like a great time to celebrate students that have gone to local schools in Middletown and other regional places…to use that as a way to encourage people to come to campus and support these students, in addition to trying other resources that the campus offers,” Lechowicz said.
Interim Director of Public Safety (PSafe) Tony Bostick explained PSafe’s involvement in the event.
“They open up the whole campus to the community,” Bostick said. “It’s a lot of excitement, at least among the folks I’ve been speaking with about it. We’re mostly taking care of security measures and that kind of stuff as folks approach campus and are looking for parking and directions.”
Students who attended Middletown Day had mixed opinions on the outcome of the event.
“The bouncy castle looked entertaining, but I wish that more students had attended,” said Noelle Choi ’17. “I feel as though it would have benefitted from more on-campus advertisement. There seemed to be many more Middletown residents than Wesleyan students.”
Overall, feedback from the administration was positive; Lechowicz thought the event was successful.
“Middletown Day at Wesleyan went really well,” Lechowicz wrote in an email to The Argus. “We had a couple hundred people come through, and it was such a fun time! The Wesleyan athletes ran games, there were phenomenal bands playing and many folks from the community and campus spending time together—it was all we could have hoped for.”
Because of its success, event organizers hope that Middletown Day will become a tradition.
“I’m sure we’re going to learn from this first try and hopefully do it again next year—not necessarily with football, but maybe we will,” Meerts said. “We’ll see.”