Students, faculty, and staff gathered in Commencement Grove Monday night for a Western-themed get-acquainted party. As plates got piled high with cornbread, corn on the cob, fresh salads, penne pasta, and apple cobbler, the Pioneer mascot made an appearance, working the crowd, giving high-fives, posing for pictures.
Cowboy hats, boots, and flannel were sported by many students who got into the spirit of the occasion. Carrie Moore, a junior graphic design and photography major, enjoyed dressing up and “howdy-ing” all her friends, old and new. “It’s a lot of fun to get to start the year off like this,” Moore said. “I don’t know if I’ll get up the nerve to ride the bull, though.”
Even if Moore didn’t decide to ride the bull (that’s a mechanical bull for all the nervous parents out there), it seemed like the rest of the student body did, lining up to try staying on the bucking, twisting, spinning bovine attraction operated by a former professional bull rider. Every now and then cheers and shouts would start in earnest for a student who had managed to stay on for 30 seconds or more.
Even the future PUC students got in on the action (albeit with some gentler handling from the ride operator). Ethan Davis, the four-year-old son of professors Rachelle and Kent Davis, stayed on for several minutes to the cheers of the crowd, waving his free arm high, a smile splitting his face from ear to ear. When he got off, he immediately got in line for another go. “He’s having the time of his life. I think he’d stay here all night,” his mother admitted.
The evening ended with a bull-riding competition and a screening of City Slickers, the urban cowboy classic film.
“I’m really happy with the turnout and how much everyone seems to be enjoying themselves,” said Rachel Hijar, student association vice president and the evening’s event planner. “I’m looking forward to a really good year of social activities and school spirit.”