Party in the Park Proves a Hit

May 15, 2015

The atmosphere at UMB’s first graduation Party in the Park was as sunny as the weather.

Smiles and full regalia were the outfit of the day as members of the Class of 2015 and their friends and families gathered with faculty and administrators at University Square Park for an outdoor party with food, music, games, and photo fun before the academic procession to Royal Farms Arena on May 15.

“This is perfect,” said Daniel Mina, who was graduating from the School of Pharmacy. Having lunch at a table with his parents, his wife, and his in-laws, Mina added, “This is very homey and welcoming. We just had a picture taken with [UMB President] Dr. Perman.”

“This is great,” agreed Sharisa Scales, who was graduating from the School of Nursing. “It’s something to do in between the morning school commencement and the afternoon ceremony. It’s a nice break.”

Food trucks lined the park, with graduates receiving discount vouchers. CulinArt, which serves the University, had a table with free food and drinks for all the guests.

“The music is great and I’m looking forward to the food,” said Jessica Phillips, who was graduating from the Carey School of Law. Her mother, Jane Costello, said, ‘it’s a great idea to do this. It lets all the schools come together.”

Music was furnished by Marvin “DJ Marvalous” Ganthier, who took off his headphones long enough to say he was playing “some top 40 and old school music along with a little international.”

His nonstop tunes had heads bobbing and toes tapping from parkgoers of all ages. Over in the side of the park facing the Carey School of Law, Beatrice Gwena, who was graduating from the School of Nursing, stood and sashayed to the music, arms raised. She couldn’t have looked happier.

“The food, the dancing, the music. It’s all so very refreshing. I have family here from all over the world,” she said as her children and nephews played cornhole nearby. “They’ve come from Germany, Great Britain, New York, Texas, and my native Cameroon. It’s rare when you can get all of us together.”

Campus Life Services had a huge vinyl banner on which people could jot down their congratulations to the graduates before it is placed in the Southern Management Corporation Campus Center. Campus Life Services also provided a pixilated photo booth that was mobbed as serious groups of a few and louder groups of 10 or more posed for free pictures.

“I love it. I feel taken care of,” said School of Nursing graduate Emma Brazell. “This is wonderful.”

President Perman moved his pre-commencement lunch with the platform party to the park as well. He wasn’t the only one making the rounds greeting graduates and guests as the Oriole Bird also was on hand. Asked for a comment, the Oriole Bird nodded and whistled in short bursts for 10 seconds before posing for another photo with happy students.

“The Party in the Park was beautiful,” Deputy Police Chief Milland Reed, MS, said during the academic procession when asked about any disruptions. “Everything was good.”

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