Where colorful murals and evocative messages usually pave the cement squares that form Appian Way, rain washed out the ideal outdoor set-up for the Chalk Talk tradition. But, despite poor weather, Keene State College students still came out in masses to enjoy the annual end-of the-year carnival and its accompanying festivities in the Zorn Dining Commons on Thursday, April 28, 2011.
In a last minute decision, KSC Student Government, the sponsoring organization of the carnival, and KSC officials resolved to move all Chalk Talk festivities into the Zorn Dining Commons due to the inclement weather.
Student Body President Colin Daly said the campus has been cooperative in making the event happen.
“We’ve been meeting all week with Paul [Striffolino] and the D.C. about the weather,” Daly said. “Everyone’s been really great in accommodating us.”
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Staff Advisor for Student Government Paul Striffolino said, although a backup plan was in place, final decisions were put off as long as possible in hopes that the rain would hold off. Striffolino said it was decided at 7 a.m. Thursday morning that the food would be served inside the Dining Commons and at 12 p.m. the music entertainment was also moved indoors.
Although boxes of sidewalk remained untouched outside, the volume in the Dining Commons was deafening as hundreds of students filed inside for this year’s country-themed event.
While students feasted on barbeque ribs, corndogs, fried chicken with gravy, biscuits, and cornbread provided by the Dining Commons, a Long Island band called County Line performed classic country music hits.
But Chalk Talk has not always been such so elaborate. Debuting in the spring of 1992, the first event was held on the Fiske Quad and challenged students to cover the entire “X” walkway with inspirational messages, according to Striffolino. The event’s popularity moved Student Government to build on the event’s success the following year. “The next year we started grilling burgers and every year it’s grown and grown,” Striffolino said. “And now we’ve got a carnival to go with it!”
While the event’s T-shirt’s became makeshift umbrellas this year, students who braved the weather walked back to their dorms grinning. KSC sophomore Leah Mulroney said after her first experience at Chalk Talk and carnival last year, there was no way she was missing it this year. “I think it’s definitely worth it,” Mulroney said. “I just want to go on carnival rides and, if you’re with your friends, it’s always a good time.”
Junior Jon Fain said the weather of late has put a damper on Spring Weekend, another KSC tradition he said he looks forward to to pull the campus out of winter mode.
“It’s always been outside and is a great lead into Solar Fest,” Fain said. “I haven’t really been able to enjoy much of it today.”
As graduation looms closer, senior Hannah Lique Naitove said she appreciates the college’s efforts to ease the tension surrounding finals and post graduation job searching.
“It’s a good way to get us away from the books and the stress for a few hours,” Lique Naitove said. “I only have a couple weeks left here with my friends and, at this point, you can’t take any time together for granted.”
Striffolino said it’s events like this one that remind him of why he works with the college community.
“College students are up for anything,” Striffolino said. “It may be downpouring but they’ll still wait in line for a T-shirt and to go on carnival rides.”
Teetering on the edge of real world responsibilities, KSC’s college crowd proves they know how to celebrate their youth and still know how to be kids.
Tara Nathan can be contacted at email@example.com