Enthusiastic Students and Alumni Make Great Lawn a Weekend Retreat
St. John’s University transformed the Great Lawn of the Queens campus into a playground for students and alumni on April 26–27 in its annual celebration of spring’s long-awaited arrival.
On Friday, April 26, nearly 2,500 students, faculty and staff turned out for the annual Spring Fling carnival, while a record 2,300 alumni and family members came out the next day for this year’s Alumni Great Lawn Party.
Dazzling weather graced both events, making the rides, games, entertainment and free food even more alluring.
Hosted by the Student Programming Board, Student Government, Inc., and Student Affairs, the carnival filled the Great Lawn with revelers from 1 to 4 p.m. on a sunshine-lit Friday afternoon. It marked the end of Spring Week’s slate of student activities. “Every year, we solicit student feedback before creating our weeklong program," said Mary Pelkowski, Associate Dean of Student Engagement. “Our objective is to give students a chance to have some fun before bracing for final exams.”
In the days leading up to the carnival, students participated in a poetry slam, browsed at a farmer’s market, staged a fashion show and competed in a Battle of the Voices. “The top-four finalists in ‘Voices’ received tuition checks of $1,000, $500, $250 and $150, respectively,” said Christina Blanchard, Coordinator of Campus Activities.
“While the carnival is primarily for students,” she added, “the entire University community looks forward to it. It’s not every day that the St. John’s campus is transformed into a space providing bumper cars, ferris wheels, loop-do-loops, billiards and fitness machines.”
For Shannon Kennedy ’16C, “the carnival is a perfect end to an exciting week. It’s 100 percent enjoyable. Events like this are among the reasons I'm so happy I came to St. John’s.” Jenny Le ’16CPS agreed with her friend, adding, “I'm really impressed by the entertainment, especially the jugglers, hoola hoop demonstrators and the performers on stilts. It’s wonderful to know that the University cares enough to stage an event like this.”
“We are very grateful to all the students on the Student Programming Board who dedicated months to planning the celebration and making the whole week such a success,” said Gemma Leggere, who also serves as Coordinator of Campus Activities. “Everything came together today, even the weather.”
On Saturday, the Alumni Great Lawn Party provided an ideal way 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. “Now we’re here with our sons, our daughters, watching them play together on campus.” From castle bouncers to caricature artists, bumper cars to a ferris wheel, children of all ages enjoyed moving from ride to ride.
At the Young Alumni Area near the food and beverage tents, recent graduates like Andre Green ’06CPS recalled the first time they came to St. John’s. “I was so proud to be a St. John’s student then," he said, "and I still am proud of my University.”
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.”