COLLEGE PARK – The University of Maryland celebrated its 20th annual Maryland Day, a campus-wide event for students, faculty, alumni and the surrounding community, on Saturday, April 28.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary, for the first time visitors had the opportunity to get a free collector's item pin from each of the six sections of the event.
“The event was established in 1999,” Director of Maryland Day Cynthia Martinez said. “It is always free admission and free parking, and we ensure that our guests have a quality experience and we want to make sure they feel welcome.”
“I want to collect the limited edition pins,” said Joana Romero who was attending her third Maryland Day. “If we can get those that would be the most exciting.”
As another perk of the 20th anniversary, the event incorporated special new activities such as a Summer Trends Fashion Show and a fire simulation by the Fire Protection and Engineering group, as well as traditional activities like the Insect Petting Zoo.
Maryland Day was started by the school’s previous president, Dr. C. Daniel Mote Jr., who wanted a way to allow the surrounding community and prospective students to see the work the school does.
“Now Maryland Day welcomes anywhere between 75,00 to 100,000 people over the course of the day,” said Martinez. “The event really has grown from a couple of hundred events to now over 400 events over the entire campus.”
To make the enormous event easier to navigate, Maryland Day was divided into six different learning neighborhoods scattered throughout the campus.
“I’m really excited to do the artsy stuff,” said Sena Hordoffa from Silver Spring visiting Maryland Day for the first time. “I’m an artist, and I like doing painting and drawing.”
Art and Design Place was centered around The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center where they held 50 different events.
“We have music, theater, dance, interactive activities,” said Megan Pegado Wells, a volunteer in The Clarice Performing Arts Center celebrating her sixth Maryland Day. “Something really for the whole family to be able to come to campus and experience work by students, faculty, and staff in performing arts.”
The Clarice Performing Arts Center held events such as the insect petting zoo, dance classes and performances. One of the most anticipated events was bucket drumming lessons.
“We took a couple of African Gahu rhythms, adapted them to buckets,” said Keegan Couse, a sophomore at UMD and bucket drumming instructor. “I made it so the kids will be able to participate learning this music, how to play these rhythms and creating their own.”
The next neighborhood, Biz and Society Hill, featured info sessions for prospective students and other events such as an alumni barbecue and a mock business pitch presentation.
Ag Day Avenue paid homage to the university’s agricultural roots was originally founded as an agricultural institution.
On Ag Day Avenue, participants could take a walk through the university’s farm to pet the cows, horses, sheep and more. The Department of Animal and Avian Sciences put on an Ag Day Livestock Show throughout the day where they showcased their assortment of sheep, swine, dairy and beef as well as their award-winning animals.
On Science and Tech Way, one of the main attractions, primarily for kids, was Chemistry Magic presented by the Alpha Chi Sigma Chemistry Fraternity.
“They get so excited, and it’s nice to hear them say they want to be scientists when they grow up,” said Emily Larkin, a senior at UMD and member of Alpha Chi Sigma.
At their outdoor station, they demonstrated various hands-on science projects such as freezing grapes in liquid nitrogen and having people smash them with hammers. The group has been putting on Chemistry Magic at Maryland Day for the past 10 years aimed at mainly elementary school kids.
“I never really considered chemistry until I got to college so it’s nice showing kids that it can be fun,” said Sophia Sommerkamp, junior and Alpha Chi Sigma member.
Sports and Rec Row featured athletic events such as a climbing wall challenge and physical activity challenge as well as some more relaxing experiences such as yoga classes.
The last neighborhood was Terp Town Center, based in the center of campus. On McKeldin Mall there were rows of tables with more activities and information on the school. Meanwhile, at Hornbake Plaza, Jonathan Pick, alumnus and founder of Terps Against Hunger, was helping to facilitate groups packing bags of food for those in need.
“We’re bringing together the family unit,” Pick said. “It starts a nice conversation about service and about hunger that continues at home.”
Terps Against Hunger partnered with The Do Good Institute ,which has been participating in Maryland Day for the past two years. Terps Against Hunger alone had 800 people come by throughout the day to pack 100,000 meals which, like all meals packed by the group, would all go out to the local community, Pick said.
“It’s always really exciting to be here and to see the campus in a way it never is the rest of the year,” Pegado Wells said. “It’s really exciting to be able to share the work on campus and the passions the student's faculty and staff have with the broader community.”