Picnic Day, UC Davis‘ annual open house, will take place this Saturday with the theme “Reflections: 100 Years of Aggie Legacy,” in honor of the university‘s centennial celebrations.
For its organizers, no theme was more appropriate.
“The Aggie legacy is Picnic Day, it’s our oldest tradition – it’s remained a constant throughout UC Davis history,” said Steven D. Lee, publicity chair and a senior political science and communication double major.
The day’s celebrations will begin at 9:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony, followed by a parade starting at 10:10 a.m. through campus and parts of the downtown area. Billed as the largest student-run event of its kind in the country, Picnic Day has historically drawn an average of about 60,000 visitors a year, according to organizers – nearly doubling the population of Davis in a single day.
However, last year’s event attracted an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Aggie enthusiasts, and organizers are expecting crowds at least that large this year.
“A lot of alumni are coming back to see what’s going on in the university, and a lot of prospective students, too,” said Christine Pham, chair of the Picnic Day board of directors and a senior economics major. “[Prospective students] are coming to check out the campus, and Picnic Day is perfect because it falls around the time between when they’ve gotten their acceptance letters but haven’t submitted their intent to register yet.“
In keeping with the theme of legacy, this year’s parade marshals are an Aggie alumnus and an undergraduate student. Bob Black, former ASUCD president, Davis mayor and city councilmember will lead the parade with senior sociology major Gabriella Wong, a winner of the Strauss Public Service Scholarship.
Popular events will include the UC Davis Veterinary School of Medicine’s Doxie Derby dog races, beginning 1 p.m. at the ARC Pavilion, as well as the Chemistry Club’s annual Chemistry Magic Show, held in Chem 194 in various showings from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
The East Quad will feature the Student Organization Faire, where nearly a hundred groups registered with Student Programs and Activities Center (SPAC) will sell food to hungry visitors. In addition, Sodexo plans to provide food for about 120,000 people at various booths throughout campus.
The Multicultural Children’s Faire, held on the lawns surrounding Hart Hall, was started in 2002 as an event dedicated to kids of all ages. Now in its eighth year, it’s one of Picnic Day‘s newer traditions.
“[The fair’s] theme this year is ‘Sprouting Seeds with Change.‘ It’s our hope that with this theme, we can make small steps in creating future change now; we can grow together and learn tolerance,” said Ashley Khawsy, the fair’s director and a sophomore communication major. “We have Japanese origami, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Native American noodle necklaces and Hawaiian lei crafts … we’re anticipating at least 750 kids per craft.“
Picnic Day began in 1909, when the University Farm invited 2,000 visitors from the surrounding community to view the new dairy barn. Originally sponsored by the faculty, a student committee became responsible for the event in 1912.
“As the university grew, Picnic Day did too … it’s one of the longest standing traditions of UC Davis,” Pham said.
But while the university is celebrating its 100th birthday, Picnic Day 2009 is only in its 95th year. The event was cancelled in 1924, 1938, and, because of World War II, from 1942 to 1944.
In 1935, the administration cancelled classes the day before, so students could help prepare for the event. Unfortunately, in the years that followed the act did not continue on as a Picnic Day tradition.
On campus parking will be free of charge.
For a full list of Picnic Day events, visit picnicday.ucdavis.edu.
ANDRE LEE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.