By Christina Armeni
The smell of warm funnel cakes filled the air before I even reached McKeldin Mall. As I headed towards the sound of loud music and excited chatter, beaming students passed me with cotton candy and popcorn in hand, heading off to their next activity. I was welcomed by the distinctive tune of Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” and squeals coming from the bounce house. Parents, students and alumni gathered Friday evening to celebrate the University of Maryland’s homecoming weekend at the Terp Carnival.
Every fall the University of Maryland invites alumni to come back to their former campus and celebrate amongst old friends and current students. This past week the Division of Student Affairs hosted a long list of events, including a comedy show featuring Ali Wong and a crab feast on Thursday.
The Terp Carnival on Mckeldin Mall was the university’s main Friday night event, boosting school pride before the football game the following day. The carnival had an abundance of free activities as well as games and attractions you had to pay for, such as bounce houses, obstacle courses and a photo booth. Up and down the paths of the mall were students riding unicycles and students learning how to juggle, as well as ambitious students who juggled while riding unicycles. Guests could enjoy churros, corn dogs and other fair food favorites.
The majority of the students at the carnival flocked to the seemingly endless line for a free 2018 homecoming scarf. Luyao Wang, a criminology and criminal justice grad student, said that she waited “more than 30 minutes in the line” but reassured that the scarf was worth the wait.
On the other side of the mall, free henna, face painting and caricature drawings were being offered. Three eager student members of the university color guard gathered around their friend, Jordan Brandon, as she got a sparkly flag painted on her cheek. Brandon, a senior studio art major, was eager to see what the design looked like. Near the face painting table were two geology grad students getting henna designs on their hands. One of the students, Haley Talbot, said that she was refreshingly “surprised they were offering it for free” as festivals normally charge 15 or 20 dollars for henna. The other geology student, Carol Morel, mentioned that they also went in the bounce house. Morel remarked, “I hadn’t been in one since I was like ten so it was fun to do it again.”
Live music created a festive atmosphere for the carnival. The band SoundTown Baltimore, comprising former UMD students, performed lively covers throughout the evening, including crowd favorites such as Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” and Toto’s “Africa.” Lead singer Jake Stuart, who attended UMD from 2008-2012, spoke to me about what it was like being on campus again. “It is nice to come back, there are always new buildings,” Stuart joked. Their set was lighthearted and entertaining, attracting families with young kids to enthusiastically dancing students.
The night ended with a fireworks show above McKeldin Library, with everyone stopping what they were doing to enjoy a beautiful display of lights that lit up the sky. It was a perfect way to celebrate the end of the carnival and build excitement for the 2018 homecoming weekend.
Featured Photo Credit: Jordan Brandon, senior studio art major, at Terp Carnival (Christina Armeni/Bloc Reporter).
Christina Armeni is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.