Picnic Day 2009 may be over, but for a core group of students, Picnic Day 2010 is just beginning.
On a Wednesday two weeks from now, this year’s Picnic Day board of directors will meet to discuss and evaluate the success of the event, and also to begin preparing board reports with detailed information for next year’s board to utilize.
“We meet to go over how everything went, and how anything can be improved for next year,” said Christine Pham, chair of the Picnic Day committee and a senior economics major.
The modest stipend the directors receive for their Picnic Day work is contingent upon completion of the board reports, explained Steven D. Lee, publicity director and a senior political science and communication double major.
Pham, Lee and their co-workers have a lot to be proud of. UC Davis‘ 95th annual Picnic Day was a success, with tens of thousands of visitors flooding the sun-baked campus Saturday.
Lines for popular events – liked the Doxie Derby and chemistry magic show – wrapped around buildings. While a total estimate of visitors was not available at the time of publication, organizers noted that large areas of campus were noticeably more crowded than last year, and Pham added that on-campus parking had reached maximum capacity by noon.
Behind the scenes, Picnic Day’s 17 directors, approximately 60 assistant directors, and an army of 300 volunteers worked tirelessly to assure operations ran smooth. Directors arrived at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, and a few organizers stayed until nearly 9 p.m.
“The last couple of weeks have been really long and really difficult,” reflected Lee, the Sunday morning after the event, when directors arrived to help dismantle equipment and clean the campus. “But seeing the huge crowd on the Quad, the work paid off.… It’s an unrivaled experience.“
The 2009 directors‘ experiences began last year in May, when then-ASUCD President Ivan Carrillo selected Christine Pham, a veteran Picnic Day organizer, to chair the unit. The next few months, through summer and fall quarter 2008, Pham publicized administrative positions, reviewed applications, and selected new members for the Picnic Day board.
Beginning fall quarter, directors would meet once a week, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Mee Room on the third floor of the Memorial Union. There, the 17 directors, flanked by their assistant directors, staff and observers, would begin planning for Picnic Day, still months away.
“In fall, we pick the theme and our parade marshals, which set the tone for the year’s Picnic Day … by winter quarter, we know all of the events planned,” Lee said.
Stephanie Barrales, a junior community and regional development major, worked as co-operations director for the event.
“I took care of the logistical part, making sure everyone had the supplies they needed on the ground level – tables, chairs, garbage disposal,” Barrales said.
Barrales began her involvement in January, working with university maintenance to procure hundreds of pieces of equipment, including 20 port-a-potties placed strategically throughout the campus (last year’s event had only five).
And while Barrales worked on getting equipment and logistical concerns, other directors scrambled to organize the multicultural faire, student organization faire, publicity and various other areas of planning. Each director, while tending to their own responsibilities, worked closely with their fellow directors in a cohesive effort.
“It’s definitely hectic, but it’s all worth it – the relationships you make, the ideas you get … we worked together really well. My heart goes out to Picnic Day, so you’ll probably see me again next year,” Barrales said.
In the week just before the event, directors met daily, ironing out last-minute details in anticipation for a potential 100,000 visitors.
Then came Picnic Day, which by all accounts ran smoothly. After months of planning, the event was over in a matter of hours.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Pham said. “It feels very odd; you work for so long for one day. I’m glad that it’s all over and I can be a normal student again.… I’ve put so much time and investment into it, and I think that says how much I’ve really enjoyed it.“
In approximately a month, current ASUCD President Joe Chatham will select a new unit director to replace Pham for UC Davis‘ 96th annual Picnic Day, and the cycle will begin again.
ANDRE LEE can be reached at email@example.com.