Fun for Everyone at the Alumni Great Lawn Party!

Monday, April 29, 2013

With blue skies and picturesque conditions, the Fifth Annual Alumni Great Lawn Party proved to be a blast for the whole family.

A record crowd of approximately 2,300 alumni and friends came out for this popular event, bringing their families along with them to enjoy the abundance of food and games on the Great Lawn.

“Oftentimes, alumni have great memories of the University, but they don’t always have an opportunity to come back to campus,” said Scott Williams, Associate Vice President of Alumni Relations. “The Great Lawn Party continues to serve as a wonderful occasion for graduates to come back with their families and celebrate St. John’s and one another. That’s what it’s all about, and we hope it continues to grow year after year.”

For many, this popular event was the perfect opportunity to catch up with former classmates and friends.

“It feels great to be back together, this time under very different circumstances,” said Anthony Zito ’98SVC, ’01MBA as he chatted with friends. “Now we’re here with our sons, our daughters, watching them play together on campus. It’s cool to see our families having a fun time here on campus – the same place where my friends and I have so many fond memories.”

And there were certainly a lot of activities for the kids to enjoy. From castle bouncers to caricature artists, bumper cars to a ferris wheel, children of all ages enjoyed moving from ride to ride. Adults, meanwhile, brought blankets and lawn chairs, sitting around with friends as they relaxed with delicious barbeque food and drinks.

“I’m a daddy now,” said Steve Gallagher ’92CBA, “so I had a long list of to-dos today: the slide, the games, you name it. But I enjoy it all, seeing a smile on my children’s faces and allowing them to wear my colors and represent my University in some way.”

This year’s party also featured PlayFair: The Ultimate Icebreaker, a series of fun activities designed to help alumni, friends and their kids meet one another. Featuring circle sits and football lines, the unique PlayFair games were a hit, especially amongst the children.

“It’s a really great time for families and their kids,” said Albert Fitzpatrick ’90CBA. “My oldest one, who’s nine, already wants to come to St. John’s when he goes to school. So, hey, if this event can also get kids interested in college, you just can’t beat it.”

At the Young Alumni Area near the food and beverage tents, a number of recent graduates gathered to enjoy each other’s company and reminisce about their student days. For some, like Andre Green ’06CPS, the event brought back great memories of the first time he stepped foot onto the Queens campus.

“I’ll never forget that first time I walked up to the main gate, and I said, ‘Wow, this looks like all the colleges you see on television!’” he recalled. “I was so proud to be a St. John’s student then, and I still am proud of my University. And that’s why you see so many kids running around here today: we, as alumni, are proud to show our families where we spent four years of our life, and hopefully it will inspire them to come here too.”

Although it’s only been a year since Caitlin Conklin ’12CPS graduated, she was at the Great Lawn Party with nearly 20 of her friends, hanging out on the Great Lawn just like they had done so many times before. 

“All my friends heard about this event, and we immediately started texting each other,” she said. “It’s a little reunion for us, and it’s bittersweet – we miss each other, and this is what we used to do. It’s a perfect day out, and if we were students, we’d be doing the same thing as we are now – just hanging out on the Great Lawn, having a blast.”

As the event came to a close, Conklin was already looking forward to next year’s Great Lawn Party, excited about keeping her St. John’s friendships strong as this tradition continues to grow.

“When I have kids someday, I can’t wait to bring them out to this event,” she said. “My friends and I will keep coming, and our children will hopefully be playing together – it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to!”

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