BlastOff! wraps up orientation weekend

Jenna Staul

Students gather around the track field to watch the fireworks at the BlastOff! celebration. Hundreds watched and participated in events held by Kent State student organizations.

Sam Twarek | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys


Throngs of students and more than 50 organizations filled the track behind DeWeese Health Center yesterday to usher in the new semester with Back to School BlastOff!. The 12th annual event has come to serve as the unofficial introduction to university life for many and gives organizations a chance to promote themselves to the student body.

5:15 p.m. — Stage

A dozen onlookers stood with arms crossed staring stiffly ahead as Tropadelic played their set. One eager fan stood out from the rest, soaked in sweat, flailing his arms and spinning wildly at the music.

“I wanted to come here to hang out with the people who I’m going to be with for the next four years,” Nick Wheeler said, freshman visual communication design major. “Music is how I express myself. I’m surprised more people aren’t dancing like me. They’re just standing here like they’re listening to the radio.”

5:30 p.m. — Waterpong

Phi Sigma Pi, a co-ed national honor fraternity, found a unique way of introducing students to Greek life while promoting its own organization — beer pong sans beer.

“Beer pong is definitely a college thing,” said Jason Krogh, senior youth development major. “We’re just kind of making fun of fraternities drinking all the time.”

6:30 p.m. — Medieval Fighting

The Kent State Medieval Fighting Club created a spectacle with its demonstration of medieval warfare complete with traditional costumes and foam-covered sticks.

Junior math major Randy Thomas looked puzzled as he gazed onward at the fighting.

“I would never do that,” Thomas said. “I’m pretty sure that hurts. They look pretty skilled.”

6:45 p.m. — USS Dunk Tank

Jonithon LaCross, senior political science major, sat smiling as his water-drenched clothes clung to his body above a water tank as students took turns at “Sink the Senator.”

“I’m having fun and it’s getting kids to come to our table,” said LaCross, who is the senator for university affairs. “They’re coming here and then they’re hanging around to see what we have to offer.”

7 p.m. — Hot Air Balloon

A multi-colored hot air balloon gracefully swayed in the wind as it provided the backdrop for most of the evening. Several students were lucky enough to ascend about 25 feet into the air aboard it.

Heather Graham, senior early childhood education major, said the ride was worthwhile.

“I was a little nervous at first,” Graham said. “It was really loud and hot up there, but you could see everything. It was kind of peaceful.”

9 p.m. — Fireworks

As the evening came to a close, students filed off of the track. Fireworks illuminated the summer sky.

“I’ll come back next year,” said freshman psychology major Tiara Harris earlier in the evening. “We’ve just been walking around getting to know people. It’s helpful and it’s fun.”

Contact news correspondent Jenna Staul at [email protected].