Students gathered on Denver Street between Second and Third Street to enjoy Destination Downtown, a community outreach event during Week of Welcome. The event had food for students, yard games, a raffle and discounts at local businesses.
Student Life and the Week of Welcome committee organized the event. Kara Siedhoff, coordinator of student activities, and Chandra Essex, director of residential life, drew inspiration from their previous education and work at the University of Nebraska Kearney, where a similar event was held.
“We had been wanting a community outreach event for a while, and Susan (Meeske) and I had talked over the summer and she was saying there used to be a community outreach event for students and a way to get them downtown but it hadn’t happened for a few years,” Siedhoff said. “… When I went to the businesses, they said it had been maybe five years since we had an event downtown for students.”
It’s estimated that over 400 students attended the event. There were 19 businesses listed in the brochure that participated, offering discounts on food and services. All students had to do was visit two clothing stores, two restaurants and the library and get their ticket hole-punched by each business to be entered in a raffle. Raffle prizes included a TV, headphones and board games.
“Even though the businesses were doing the deals, we weren’t sure they would actually go to the businesses since we were offering free food down on the street, so we did the little train ticket with the punch card …” Siedhoff said. “Once students received five punches on there, they could turn it into us to win the larger prizes that we had.”
According to Siedhoff, there were over 160 punch cards turned in.
In addition to the games and business specials, the band “Elysium” played, featuring singer and alumna Kayla Nelson. The band played songs including covers of contemporary pop and country songs for the second half of the event. The Hastings College dance team performed during an intermission for the band.
“Kayla (Nelson), the lead singer, is an alumni (sic) of the college … When we asked, she was thrilled to perform for the college and give back and just participate,” Siedhoff said.
Student Life is planning to host the event again next year after receiving positive feedback from students and businesses.