Family Fest makes a comeback

Senior+Tiana+Scherzer+and+her+family+take+a+photo+in+front+of+a+giant+blow+up+Willie+the+Warhalk+at+Family+Fest+Saturday%2C+Oct.+9%2C+2021.

Felicity Knabenbauer

Senior Tiana Scherzer and her family take a photo in front of a giant blow up Willie the Warhalk at Family Fest Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.

Felicity Knabenbauer, Lifestyle Editor

Dozens of children running swiftly around from activity to activity as cotton candy sticks out of their mouths. Their parents hurriedly walk behind them in equal excitement. Resonating around them is music coming from huge speakers, where a DJ is blasting out classics such as Who let the dogs out, Thriller and Cotton Eyed Joe.
All this excitement is centered at the Williams Center gymnasium, where Willie’s Fun Zone is being held due to the annual Family fest. This year it was held Saturday, Oct. 9 on a sunny eighty-degree day for students to show their parents around campus proudly.

“I finally know where everything is and I can show my parents around and act like I actually know my way around now,” said freshman business major Luke Raduenz. “I have my mom and dad here with me and we are going to go to the football game. They are going to watch me perform in the band and then I guess get some food and show them around some more.” 

There were many homesick freshmen who were very excited to show their parents around their new homes here on campus. For some the transition can be a stressful time, and this event let not only students feel welcomed, but their families as well. 

“Students may have only been here for a month, but now they can actually host their family. What we try to do is find a lot of different opportunities for students to get involved on this day, said First Year Experience Director Beth John. “It is just an opportunity for folks to come back to campus and bring their families just to have that time together. We were really upset that we couldn’t host it last year. We are very excited to host it this year although it does look a little bit different with wearing face covers. It’s okay, however, as people are really understanding and making sure they are following the rules.” 

The First-Year Experience office set up so many activities for everyone to enjoy, that it was hard to keep track of them. Some of the activities in Willie’s fun zone were a photo booth, wheelchair basketball with the UW-W basketball teams, temporary tattoos and a DJ. There was  free cotton candy and a variety of yard games to help work out the energy from the sugar rush many children were sure to have. Games included bean bag toss, ladder toss, miniature soccer, giant Jenga and giant Connect Four. 

“The event has been fun, the kids have been having a lot of fun, especially during a pandemic where sometimes excursions are limited. We are all having fun. They get to experience some stuff with inclusion and disability awareness and just enjoy themselves somewhere other than the home,” said father of two CJ Schwab. “My wife is a part of helping put this event together, so we always come every year.”

This event was not only a great way to spend time with family, but also to get volunteer hours as well. The variety of different activities needed to be attended to somehow and students were happy to oblige.

“I really love volunteering. The guy running the tattooing is my high school throws coach. They set me up with this, so I was like ‘Yeah, I’ll volunteer for sure. I love helping out,'” said high school volunteer Jacob Brose. “This is my first time doing temporary tattooing. I think there are a few more events throughout the year. I will probably help out at those too. I’m from Janesville so I volunteer a lot there as well. I just try to do as much as I can to help out wherever I can.” 

Although there were thousands of tailgaters outside the Williams Center there was little to no chaos, yet still plenty of enthusiasm and buzz surrounding the event. With last year’s Family Fest being cancelled, this year showed great promise in continuing to have safe and fun events once again here on the UW-Whitewater campus.

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