The Tradition Continues at Sixth Annual Alumni Great Lawn Party

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A few rain showers couldn’t spoil an otherwise perfect day at the Sixth Annual Alumni Great Lawn Party, as close to 2,000 alumni, friends and family came out to enjoy an awesome day of rides, games and BBQ. Guests enjoyed mostly clear skies and warm temperatures for what has quickly become one of the University’s most beloved traditions.

“It’s amazing how the Great Lawn Party has grown over the last six years,” said Scott Williams, Associate Vice President of Alumni Relations. “Alumni from all over, coming together here on the Great Lawn, catching up with their families and old friends – that says a lot about our community and about what St. John’s is all about.”

As in years past, the Great Lawn Party featured a variety of carnival games, from bumper cars to castle bouncers, billiard tables to the popular swing ride. 

For many alumni, like Jonathan Dill ’88Ed, the party serves as the perfect backdrop for a much-needed get-together with friends. 

“I’m a six-time attendee and have been here since the very first event,” Dill explained. “I have a great time every year, and so do my two boys – they love the rides, not to mention the unlimited cotton candy! I’ve always felt welcomed at St. John’s, like I’m an important part of the community, so I’ve been telling all my friends to come out as well, and it’s great to see such a big turnout.” 

I find it amazing that my kids are running around my old stomping grounds, and now my daughter already knows she wants to come here for college."

Derek Simpson ’90SVC, for example, is one of Dill’s friends, who decided to take his family out to this fun tradition after hearing so many rave reviews. 

“Jonathan said to me once, ‘Hey, are you guys coming out to the Great Lawn Party?’ And I said, ‘What’s the Great Lawn Party?’ Simpson recalled. “It’s been a family tradition ever since, and, for us, it symbolizes the beginning of spring. I find it amazing that my kids are running around my old stomping grounds, and now my daughter already knows she wants to come here for college. So it’s safe to say that SJU definitely runs in the family!”

Other alumni, like Nicole Lalena ’12Ed, enjoyed the opportunity to kick back with other recent graduates and reminisce about her college days not so long ago. In particular, the Great Lawn Party reminded her of the annual Spring Fling for students, which has a similar environment.

“I remember those fun times, and I just really loved the whole concept behind it,” Lalena said. “I attended SJU Oktoberfest in the fall, and I enjoyed that as well, so my friends and I figured that we couldn’t go wrong with this event.”

She added, “When you think back to all the University gave to us, it’s important that we stay connected and now give back ourselves.” 

Although a few scattered showers passed near the end of the event, they couldn’t dampen guests’ enthusiasm, as DJ James McGuire ’92SVC played popular songs and classic hits while many guests – especially kids – danced up a storm.

John Marchi ’13TCB and friends took a moment to pose for photos with Johnny Thunderbird. For Marchi, the event was the perfect way to reconnect with St. John’s and remember the great times from his undergraduate years.

“Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite events of the year,” he said. “It’s great to see so many alumni of different generations – it says so much about our community. Even though you graduate from St. John’s, you never really leave. So, 10 years down the road, 20 years down the road, you’ll still be welcomed back to campus with open arms.”

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