Posted February 7, 2014
By JENNA JOHNSON
Standing in the long line for fried Oreos and funnel cake, freshman Mia Pitsironis explained that Canes After Dark doesn’t really fit the stereotype of a typical Friday night in Miami.
“I mean, it’s no South Beach,” she said, “but that doesn’t mean that it’s not any fun. It’s nice that it’s on campus, especially when you don’t have a car.”
According to Pitsironis, the Canes After Dark events are also perfectly spaced apart.
“It’s not too often to get bored of it so it’s still exciting and new every time,” she observed.
This particular time was the second annual Spring Kickoff, hosted by Canes Night Live and Student Government on Jan. 17 at the Student Activities Center and Miller Drive. The event was the fourth in a series of “Canes After Dark” activities held monthly by Canes Night Live, a subsidiary organization of Hurricane Productions, which holds various opportunities for free entertainment for students.
The Spring Kickoff featured carnival-themed activities such as Whack-a-Mole, balloon water races, a moon bounce, photo booth, henna tattoos, a caricature artist, a tie-dye station and a money machine.
A live DJ was also present, playing dance tracks such as “Wobble” and “Cha-cha Slide” to get students moving. Of course, the main attraction used to draw more than 900 college students was the abundant free food, including funnel cakes, fried Oreos, hot chocolate, pigs-in-a-blanket and pretzels.
Another crowd pleaser was the pie-eating contest on the University Center Patio stage. O’Shane Elliott, a sophomore and University of Miami’s Homecoming King, won the contest by being the first contestant to finish an entire apple pie.
The UC stage also served as the runway for the pet costume contest judged by Sebastian the Ibis. Senior Julie Roldan took first place with her dog, Zorro, dressed as his namesake.
Many students thought this particular Canes After Dark was the most extravagant and activity-packed in the series. Part of this reason is due to the partnership between Student Government and Canes Night Live for the Spring Kickoff.
According to Adam Orshan, SG press secretary, both Canes Night Live and Student Government were planning a Spring Kickoff event to jump-start the second semester.
“We are already in an over-programmed campus, so partnering with Canes Night Live instead of holding two similar events just made sense,” said Orshan.
The partnership allowed both organizations to combine budgets from the student activities fees and the Division of Student Affairs to fund the Spring Kickoff.
Robert Chiste, SG treasurer, said that the Student Government contribution of funds when broken down amounted to about $5 per student. However, he was unable to share the total budget for the event due to an agreement with his advisers.
“There is a lot going on at these events,” said Chiste. “We try to get the best value we can and spend the money wisely.
SG representatives and students alike think that the cost is justified by the sense of community that results from Canes After Dark activities.
“Canes After Dark fosters community in that students are all staying on campus together and they can take part in the activities and games and meet new people,” explained Bhumi Patel, SG president.
“They do a good job of making things that take time. You can’t just come in for five minutes and be done,” said Nick Azzarito, a senior.
Patel also believes that the fact that the events are held monthly contributes to the community aspect. Regularity encourages students to keep coming back.
For the past two years, the Spring Kickoff has also served as the first big event to get transfer students integrated on campus and make them feel connected at the University of Miami. According to Chiste, a few years ago, UM didn’t have any sort of event to welcome spring semester transfers to the Hurricane family aside from orientation.
“I expected it to be hard to make new friends but everyone was open to meeting me and I had a great time. I felt like I was a part of a big family,” said Lauren Rodriguez, a spring transfer from Miami-Dade College.
Other UM organizations take advantage of Canes After Dark to make their presences known on campus as well. WVUM radio station, Hurricane Athletics, the Student Health Center, and Give Tanks philanthropies all had representatives handing out fliers and T-shirts to encourage involvement and raise awareness.
Despite a few lengthy lines, the consensus on Spring Kickoff was generally positive.
“The food alone makes it worthwhile,” Pitsironis added after finally getting her funnel cake. “I’m definitely glad I came.”
The Mardi Gras themed Canes After Dark event is scheduled for Feb. 14.