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Davis, California

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Picnic Day goes digital

How the time-honored UC Davis tradition adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic

In its over 100-year history, Picnic Day has never been held virtually — that was the case, however, up until Saturday, April 18, when Picnic Day celebrations went digital for the first time ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With events like a virtual “Doxie Derby,” and a celebration of previous Picnic Days, this virtual take on the quintessential UC Davis tradition was far from traditional. Picnic Day Chair Nicole Deacon discussed the event.

“You don’t need to be on campus to be together,” she said, reflecting on this year’s virtual Picnic Day. 

This year’s virtual celebration had 5,400 unique attendees, according to Deacon, and they sold 345 shirts ー with proceeds going to the UC Davis Medical Center. 

“I think the importance of flexibility and being able to think of new solutions is really important,” she said. 

Many groups on campus celebrate their achievements through Picnic Day demonstrations. This year, there was not enough time for these groups to transition to online mediums. 

“We actually did reach out to [groups] that had submitted applications and were going to be on Picnic Day, but people weren’t going to be able to [prepare] unless they got together, and we canceled everything during the major prep time for participants,” Deacon said.

Some organizations and alumni were able to put events together, nonetheless. The groups were told that participating in this year’s virtual event was encouraged, but optional.

“There was really only one interactive virtual experience,” said Rosalina Burton, a third-year transfer student, who attended the virtual events. “Given the circumstances, it’s understandable.”

This year, rather than showcasing different campus groups, the virtual celebrations were more of a reflection on previous Picnic Days. 

“Even though we’re in quarantine, there were still people celebrating,” Burton said, emphasizing that, though canceled, Picnic Day still holds a spot in many students’ minds. 

Alumni also participated in virtual events, making a virtual Doxie Derby using scale models and string. Students and alumni alike continued to celebrate, both by attending the virtual online event or via social media activities — many students reminisced about previous Picnic Days by uploading videos or pictures from previous years.

Though not traditional, Deacon and Burton both agreed that this year’s virtual Picnic Day was a success. 

Next year’s Picnic Day takes place on April 17, 2021. 

Written by: Alex Weinstein — campus@theaggie.org


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