Upcoming event sees uncertainty

Shannon Columb, Staff Writer

The end-of-semester celebration, Spring Splash, has lost its major sponsor for this year. Marketing company Wisconsin Red backed out after receiving criticism on last year’s event from city officials.

In regards to last year’s party, Wisconsin Red stated in a news release published on Feb. 9 that “the event itself was extremely well-controlled – properly managed, secured, and cleaned promptly.” 

Steve Farina, founder of Wisconsin Red, stated at the city council meeting that what occurred outside of the event was not “representative of the organization’s vision or values.”

Wisconsin Red has been collaborating with the City of Whitewater, City of Whitewater Police and representatives and university representatives to devise a plan for the future of Spring Splash with a goal to “contain the attendees and safely funnel any ancillary parties to the central area.”

Not only did Wisconsin Red hope to keep the participants safe, but bring awareness to the consequences they may face if they violate laws, Farina said.

This plan was of no interest to the city and after city officials described the amount of negative feedback they received from residents from last year, Pumpers and Mitchell’s dropped out as a local contributor. With no local sponsor, Wisconsin Red dropped out.

“If I was demonized and characterized the same way, I would make the same decision,” Stephanie Goettl, Common Council member and graduate said.

James Langnes III, Common Council member and undergraduate senior
believes the move was a mistake

“I feel like the city missed an opportunity to work together with Wisconsin Red and turn this event into something like Mifflin or Oktoberfest, in which case, gives out exposure to the city…which in turn, brings people into the city, they spend their money, revenue is generated,” Langnes said.

For many, whether they are for or against Spring Splash, one thing is for certain – there will still be numerous parties around Whitewater on April 29.

“All we’ve done in pushing out the controlled party is create an atmosphere where throwing a party is more adventurous,” Goettl said.

With no sponsor, Whitewater City Manager Cameron Clapper is concerned that parties may get out of hand.

“A professional organization like Wisconsin Red is the only kind of resources to throw a party like they did last year and have it be clean and successful,” Clapper said. “Anyone else trying to do that I worry is going to be making things worse for themselves and for their neighbors.”

Even though the outcome of April 29 is still uncertain, Clapper hopes having a gap year will prove successful in reducing the negativity associated with the event and Wisconsin Red.

“The idea was if there was a tone down in the online presence and promotion to people outside of the community, then any events that happen that day would not have the same negative impacts that they did last year,” Clapper said.

However, Goettl firmly believes that the city of Whitewater continues to be a separated into residents and students.

“My goal in this whole thing is to shift the conversation, talk about the good things students do, help students have a party that’s reasonable,” Goettl said.

Despite Wisconsin Red’s absence this year,  the Whitewater Police and surrounding departments will  be prepared for April 29.

In the future, supporters of Spring Splash foresee the event as being more inclusive and designated to a specific street or park. This year, supporters urge participants to be safe, responsible, and respectful.

“No matter who you are, you still have a responsibility to be a good public citizen,”
Clapper said.