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Davis, California

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

100th annual Picnic Day brings in massive crowds

Picnic Day 2014 drew in a huge crowd this year. April 12 marked the 100th anniversary of the annual UC Davis open house event, enticing visitors from around the world to participate in the Aggie lifestyle.

Picnic Day’s classic, annual activities include the Doxie Derby, UC Davis Fashion Show, cow milking, the Chemistry Magic Show, the parade, the petting zoo and the Battle of the Bands.

Such events have brought in a variety of crowds of all ages over the years. Local residents as well as families and students from far and wide come to take part in the merriment, communal energy and festivities of Picnic Day.

“Every year, thousands of people are expected to attend Picnic Day and we train our volunteers to understand that they represent Picnic Day and the UC Davis campus when they volunteer,” said Madeline Lai, a fourth-year international relations and communication double major, and 2014 Picnic Day volunteer coordinator.

These volunteers are usually UC Davis students and are compensated for their participation with lunch, a commemorative T-shirt, camaraderie and experience. The volunteer slots fill up early — there is apparent excitement to help get this popular celebration organized and running.

“I enjoy seeing all the excitement on campus. It’s amazing to see the effort the whole campus puts into this event to come together,” said Nicole Dun, the Picnic Day 2006 volunteer director in an alumni board.

Volunteers are recruited from the general Picnic Day administration, as well as from individual student communities and groups from all over campus.

“Each one of our 300-plus volunteers sign up for specific roles in which they help with various parts of Picnic Day,” Lai said. “The volunteers are offered opportunities in Animal Events, General, Information Booths, Multicultural Children’s Faire, Parade, Operations and Technical.”

The factions of volunteers are widespread and staffed according to acknowledged probable need. However, there is still a struggle to keep the demand for food or entertainment sufficiently met with supply and helping hands.

“We don’t usually have crowds until lunch time, then people start flooding in as a veritable horde; to deal with this, we have pretty much everyone work as hard as possible,” said Maris Kali, Hawaiian Club food tent volunteer, and a fourth-year history and political science double major. “Our production makes food nonstop while our runners tell the production what they need to be making, as well as having production guys keep running to the grills to get more food.”

The Doxie Derby, the Chemistry Magic Show, Davis Dance Revolution (DDR) and the UC Davis Fashion Show events each had lines of more than 50 people as the events began. The events were filled to capacity before all interested enthusiasts were able to be admitted.

The wide variety of food vendors, fundraising clubs and events was planned in an attempt to break up the crowd depending on dispersal and differentiation of interest.

Although the on-campus events and attractions are a main part of the Picnic Day allure for families and students, this day has been popularized for locals to have day-parties in their private homes. Especially college-age students, out-of-town students and alumni participate in these festivities.

“I didn’t mind the random people wandering in and out at all. I thought it was awesome that the entire Davis community was so relaxed and communal on that day. I invited strangers and friends of friends from all over my house to watch the Pacquiao PPV at night,” said Mac Pham, a fourth-year English major and host of an Alumni BBQ on Picnic Day.

However, there was definite preparation by the City of Davis Police downtown and the UC Davis Police on campus, to ensure that the public areas were kept regulated and alcohol-related issues did not upset the public.

“As we are planning, our number one priority is safety, and working with the UC Davis Police helps make that happen,” said Dustan Li, a second-year environmental science and management major and the publicity director for Picnic Day 2014.

On Picnic Day, Davis Police made 37 arrests and responded to 40 calls on account of parties and noise. According to Andy Fell, a UC Davis spokesman, University police arrested four people on campus and also issued five citations for alcohol possession.

That afternoon and night, nearly all downtown bars placed a cover charge upon entry to limit the crowds. Law enforcement was commissioned to regulate storefronts selling alcohol.

  Arrests and overall misbehavior by public nuisance decreased from previous years. To compare, on Picnic Day 2013 there were 42 arrests and in 2012, there were at least 50 arrests.

According to The Sacramento Bee, on and off campus, Picnic Day 2014 drew in an estimated half a million visitors, not counting the volunteers, staff and residents that made the events possible.

 SHANNON SMITH can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

Photos by Ciera Pasturel, Anna de Benedictis and Rosa Furneaux.


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