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Rutgers Day draws crowd of almost 100,000 people

 At Rutgers Day, there were more than 600 free performances, demonstrations and interactive activities across the College Avenue, Busch, Cook and Douglass campuses. Participants were also able to take pictures in front of R statues near Voorhees Mall.  – Photo by Benjamin Chelnitsky

Approximately 94,000 people attended the 11th annual Rutgers Day this past Saturday, an event that provides visitors the opportunity to learn about all the aspects of the University, according to Rutgers Today.

Rutgers Day first began in 2009 in New Brunswick, and has since expanded to the Newark and Camden campuses as well to give a brief overview of research, service and education offered at Rutgers. 

In New Brunswick, Rutgers Day began with a parade of students and alumni led by the Scarlet Knight mascot. One of the alumni was William Caracci, who graduated from Rutgers in 1955 and later from the Graduate School of Education in 1957. Caracci has participated in Alumni Weekend festivities for more than 50 years, and carried the banner for his class in the parade.

“The only time I missed it was when I was away in the Army,” Carracci said, who is also a Korean War veteran.

There were more than 600 free performances, demonstrations and interactive activities across four campuses: Busch campus, the College Avenue campus, Cook campus and Douglass campus. On Busch campus, there were activities related to science, technology and business, while on the College Avenue campus there were tents for history, English and theology. On the the Cook and Douglass campuses, participants were able to enjoy a variety of food trucks and a petting zoo.

Registered dietitian Evelyn Garcia was part of the Eric B. Chandler Health Center table on the College Avenue campus, speaking to elementary school students about the sugar content in their beverages.

“You know what doesn’t have any sugar in it? Water,” Garcia said. “How many of you started your day with water?” 

Visitors were able to tour the newest facilities on Busch campus, including the Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering and the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Building. Justin Haber, a resident of Franklin, New Jersey, said this year was his first year attending Rutgers Day.

“This is incredible. This event shows the true spirit of Rutgers and our nearby community,” Haber said. “I can’t believe it took me this long to attend. I’m already looking forward to next year.” 

Another popular part of Rutgers Day was the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Plant Sale, in which pepper species such as the Trinidad scorpion and pumpkin habanero pepper were sold out. 

“This is the place to get your plants,’’ said Linda Cortinas, a West Orange resident who came for lemon drop peppers. “There is a lot of stuff here you can’t get in other places.’’ 

One of the highlights of Rutgers Day is the New Jersey Folk Festival, which is considered one of the largest student-run events of its kind in the country. This year was its 45th anniversary, as well as the last year it will be overseen by Angus Kress Gillespie, its founder and a professor in the Department of American Studies. 

During the festival, Gillespie was given an award from the Folk Festival Board of Trustees recognizing his years of service, presenting him with a homemade quilt made out of folk festival t-shirts from the past. One of the stages at the folk festival was also renamed after Gillespie.

The festival is run by students who sign up for a course in festival management. 

“I tell students this is a lot more work than a regular course, but they continue signing up for it,’’ Gillespie said. “It’s very gratifying.’’ 

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