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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 27, 2004 | Vol. 34 No. 5
Give Me a J-H-U

A tradition in the making: Ralph Johnson and the JHU Blue Jay check out the Beach, where a Friday cookout will open the weekend's inaugural Fall Festival.

A weekend's worth of spirited fun is on tap for first-ever Fall Festival

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Human bowling, a brain-teasing scavenger hunt, a Crazy Cart Race and heaping portions of school spirit will be on tap for the university's inaugural Fall Festival, a three-day, all-free celebratory event on the Homewood campus to which the entire Johns Hopkins community is invited.

The festival will kick off on Friday, Oct. 1, with an afternoon cookout and pep rally on the Beach and culminate on Sunday, Oct. 3, with a large breakfast beginning at 2 a.m. in the Glass Pavilion of Levering Hall.

The jam-packed weekend is intended to acquaint participants with the campus, community and each other. The scavenger hunt, for example, will pit teams of students, faculty and staff against one another to solve a series of more than 20 challenging riddles that lead them around the campus and surrounding community. Modeled after similar scavenger hunts at Stanford and Princeton, the JHU Runaround is advertised as an "hours-long, social-bonding, team-building, community adventure that offers an intellectual and physical workout." Those not participating in the Runaround will be able to track a team's progress on a tote board set up outside the Milton S. Eisenhower Library.

Ralph Johnson, associate dean of student life and chair of the event's steering committee, said that the concept of the festival was to create an occasion that would celebrate campus community, encourage school spirit and become a memorable tradition.

"We decided from the onset that we wanted to have very participatory, active and engaging activities to try to bring together students, faculty and staff," he said. "We wanted to debunk the myth that there is no community at Johns Hopkins, and to really encourage spirit and pride about being a Blue Jay, about being a student, about being a faculty member and about working here at Hopkins. We deliberately stayed away from big events that were to some degree passive, like just sitting at a concert. We wanted to give people things where they can really get involved."

The opening-day cookout will begin at 3 p.m. and will feature a DJ, an open volleyball game and oodles of edibles, including beef and vegetarian burgers, hot dogs, side dishes and desserts. The cookout will end with a rally fronted by Hopkins cheerleaders, a pep band and representatives from various varsity sports teams who will lead the crowd from the Beach to Homewood Field, the site of the football game between the undefeated Blue Jays and Dickinson College.

The football game begins at 7 p.m., the same time the Video Shootout gets under way. Participants in the Video Shootout will have 24 hours to write, shoot and edit a five-minute video about student life or school spirit at JHU. Teams will have extended access to the video editing equipment in the Digital Media Center. The videos will be played at 10 p.m. Saturday on a large movie screen outside Levering Hall, where the audience will cheer, Showtime at the Apollo-style, to choose the winner.

The Saturday slate of events begins with more athletic events at noon, followed by the Crazy Cart Race at 4 p.m. Not just your typical push-and-steer go-cart race, the Hopkins-ized event will require each blindfolded team to communicate in a unique way. Students and faculty from the Writing Seminars, for example, could opt to give their directions in verse, while a team of mathematicians might concoct formulas. Each team is required to have a cheerleader, a heckler, a cart rider and another person to push along a tennis ball with a lacrosse stick.

The epicenter for Saturday will be the Levering Union and Plaza, the site of student-run activity booths from 4 p.m. to midnight, student group performances, the Video Shootout viewings and novelty events, including human bowling and foosball.

A Student and Faculty/Staff Variety Show will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Shriver Hall. The headline act for the evening will be a piano duet by President William R. Brody and Peabody Institute Director Robert Sirota.

Other Fall Festival events include Casino Night, varsity sports games by the men's and women's soccer teams and the men's water polo team, and performances by the Witness Theater, a student drama group.

Johnson said the festival committee, comprised of staff and students, tried to cater to a variety of tastes and to give people choices.

"People will be able to take part in most of the events, and we hope they go from one event to another," he said. "In the end, if attendees have met some new people, had some fun and engaged in one or two activities, then we feel we'll have been successful."

Attendees are asked to bring their J-cards to the cookout and breakfast to help organizers track numbers.

For an updated Fall Festival calendar and to register for an event, go to


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