Yogi Bear would have felt right at home here Saturday. Plenty of picnic baskets for him and Booboo, and nary a Ranger Rick to spoil the fun.… That is the Marvel of the annual Davis Picnic Day. It’s like the entire Davis area had been transformed into our own Cartoon Network classic.
I wasn’t in town for two of the past three Picnic Days, and the year I was here, it was pouring rain. So, I was thrilled with the beautiful sunny canvas upon which Picnic Day ’09 was painted. I did, however, spend much of the day trying not to gape openmouthed at the sheer number of the people crowded onto campus.
This year’s Picnic Day had all the classic favorites, most notably the Doxie Derby – short races with Daschunds – (a must-see at least once in your tenure at UCD), Battle of the Bands (Band-uh! will always hold a special place in my heart), and displays from different majors, like the chemistry magic show. Beer starts flowing at 6 a.m. at The Grad, just a few short hours before the pancake and mimosa breakfasts break out all over town. The Quad was crammed with enough food vendors to boost the county’s obesity rate by 15 percent, a dazzling offering of food and drink with enough variety to tempt almost anyone.
Picnic Day at UCD is unlike anything you can imagine. It seems like every student paying tuition is on campus walking by their classrooms blissfully unaware of midterms and essays and simply reveling in the beauty of campus and the greater Davis area. All of a sudden there’s traffic all over town, people spilling into the street as the sidewalks become overwhelmed with revelers. It’s hard to go a block without seeing an on-foot traffic jam or a cop car with its lights on.
If you ask any of the inebriated coeds stumbling around like … well, like inebriated coeds … they might tell you that Picnic Day is an excuse to wake up before the sun and begin drinking before normally acceptable. Ask the families on campus and they would likely tell you that this holiday is about face painting, enjoying the campus and having more to entertain their kids in one day than a parent could ever hope for.
After the sunny, wonderful day I had on Saturday, I think the reality for me is that Picnic Day is about taking a day out of our busy, chaotic, moving-too-fast-to-catch-up lives and enjoying the magic with friends and/or family. I ran into lots of sorority alumnae out on the town Saturday night and one of them said she felt like coming back to Davis was like coming to Disneyland. While walking home with a few fabulous friends I realized, she was right … it really is like Disneyland, especially on Saturday. At its most pure, Picnic Day consists of thousands of people all together simply to enjoy the day itself.
Every person I encountered on Saturday seemed to be in a good mood, and appeared eager to share their excitement with anyone willing to celebrate. Walking down the streets of Davis, people were yelling “Happy Picnic Day,” offering high-fives and cheers, and making friends with all. I am happy to say I didn’t see a single frown all day.
At the end of the night, just Michelle, Emma and I walking home and reliving the day, I couldn’t help but smile thinking about how truly happy I was to have experienced Picnic Day in all it’s glory. Where else will you ever have the opportunity to attend, essentially, a giant campuswide carnival at a school with more students than my hometown population? How many times in life do you get to live a day without concern for tomorrow, during which your only goal is to have as much fun as possible in a 24-hour window?
To all those with years still left as UCD students, let me offer a suggestion/some advice from a Picnic Day veteran: set out with good friends, always carry sunscreen and try to make the most of every moment throughout the day. There’s no need to have a specific plan; Picnic Day is about seeing where the day takes you and appreciating every second along the way!
EMILY KAPLAN is still washing off the layers of sunscreen she lathered on this past Saturday. She is thinking of turning into a sunscreen-carrying superhero: Sunscreen Girl. If you’d like to apply to be her sidekick, please e-mail her at email@example.com.