“It’s a party!” Lindsay Van Order, MS, Master of Science graduate, said upon arriving at Plaza Park, literally dancing up the steps to join in the music, food, and camaraderie at the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s third annual Party in the Park.
(See the Party in the Park video below)
UMB used to have a problem on commencement day: how to get the graduates and their families to stay on campus between the morning school convocations and the Universitywide ceremony in the afternoon?
Then the solution came: have a lunchtime party! On May 19 revelers packed the park between the School of Social Work and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, enjoying the sounds of DJ Marvalous, the food from CulinArt, and the presence of families, fellow students, and friends.
“This is brilliant,” said Hashim Gibril, DDS who had just graduated from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. “Our family needed somewhere to spend time between 10 and 2. We’re having a great time.”
His 20 family members eating lunch at two tables under a tent nodded their approval. They had come from Boston, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Michigan, Virginia — and Sierra Leone, Gibril’s homeland.
Another graduate who had traveled a distance — Rakesh Godhani, PharmD, of Toronto — was sitting alone, but having a good time just the same. “This is my first time in Baltimore,” he said, explaining he completed his Master of Science in Regulatory Science online. “Yesterday I got to meet Dr. [James] Polli and Dr. [Andrew] Coop and all the School of Pharmacy faculty in person for the first time. They’re really nice people.”
Although one School of Nursing grad thought “there could have been more seating but the premise is great,” most others enjoyed the activities, with impromptu line dances breaking out near the cornhole games and pixilated picture booth and fans of all ages rushing up to greet the Oriole Bird and Poe of the Ravens.
Even the vendors were happy.
“We love Party in the Park because everyone loves a good crabcake, wherever they are from,” said Jeff Gordon, whose Flash Crabcake truck was doing a steady business. “Also we have boys who are graduating college so we recognize the pride these parents are feeling and join in their happiness.”
Carol Velandia, MSW, a School of Social Work graduate, preferred the veggie burgers and loved the party. “It’s so good to see this place full of people and fun,” she said before joining the procession to Royal Farms Arena for the Universitywide commencement. “It’s a great sendoff for all our work.”