Spring Fling Unique for Campus, Tucson Community
The UA's Spring Fling, benefiting a local nonprofit, the UA Campus Pantry and dozens of student clubs and organizations, will be held April 7-9.
For decades, Spring Fling has been a draw for couples on first dates, for family staycations and students looking for a nearby evening getaway.
Tucson native Josler Tudisco, a University of Arizona political science and psychology major, began attending Spring Fling many years ago.
"It was always something you did. It was just part of the culture — it’s springtime, and Spring Fling is near," said Tudisco, who began as a volunteer during his freshman year. Now he is one of the student directors responsible for organizing the event, in its 43rd year.
"It is an unmatched experience," he said.
More than 35,000 people are expected to attend this year's Spring Fling, which will feature more than 40 rides, games, and food booths and stands as a major fundraiser for UA student clubs and organizations.
In many ways, Spring Fling mirrors some of the points of emphasis shared by the UA and the city of Tucson. Structured as a family-friendly event benefiting student-led and community organizations, Spring Fling's team also highlights regional food and encourages sustainability through efforts such as composting and encouragement of a pedestrian- and bike-friendly culture.
"This is such a beautiful way to bring the community together," Tudisco said. "Family friendliness and supporting our Wildcats is what we are focusing on."
Since Spring Fling returned to the UA Mall four years ago after being at Rillito Downs for a year, the event has raised more than $265,000 for UA student clubs and organizations. More than 30 student-led groups are involved this year, and they include the African Students Association and the Minority Association of Pre-Med Students, which will be selling African cuisine; the Indigicat Student Association, which will be selling fry bread and tacos; the Society for Automotive Engineers, selling roasted corn; and Mobile Medicats, offering kettle corn.
We The Kings, a rock band, is this year's headliner, and will perform from 7-9 p.m. on April 7. Other Spring Fling performers include the Faultlines Band, the Black N Blue Crew, Saguaro Stompers and the Heart and Soul Dance Group.
Kids Korner returns to Spring Fling with Saturday and Sunday presentations and activities led by representatives of Solar Cats, Students for Sustainability's Greening the Game team, Children's Museum Tucson and others.
"Each day is a little bit different and has a little bit of a different vibe," said Chance Stewart, a business economics major and one of the Spring Fling directors.
Building service into the fun, the Spring Fling team is collecting books for the local children's literacy organization Reading Seed, and also canned food goods for the UA's Campus Pantry, established in 2012 to address food insecurity on campus. The team also will continue its collection of nonperishable items for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.
Stewart said that given Spring Fling's historic dedication to community support, the team thought it fitting to do a food drive for the Campus Pantry.
"The basis for Spring Fling is connecting the UA back to the Tucson community and viewing everyone as one community," Stewart said. "We are a huge event and have the ability to make a huge impact."
Spring Fling is coordinated by nine UA student directors with hundreds of volunteers. Students are responsible for the full range of business management and logistics duties, including volunteer coordination, contracting, scheduling, marketing, media relations and field operations.
"It's just so unique," said Stewart, who is interested in a career in events management. "It's a constant mix of work and fun and chaos and nonstop excitement. I just love it. It's unlike anything else."
The team also is continuing an area of emphasis in recent years: greening Spring Fling.
The UA Office of Sustainability, UA Green Team, Green Purchasing Team, Students for Sustainability, Compost Cats and Facilities Management have worked together since 2014 to create and enact sustainable initiatives.
This year's sustainability highlights include a free bike valet location, with support from the UA Cycling Club; education and outreach, informing Spring Fling participants about how to engage in sustainability initiatives; composting and recycling, to include tableware items; and the recycling of cooking oils and grease through GreCycle, a local company that converts such materials into biodiesel to help power CatTran shuttles and other vehicles.
Since the Spring Fling team began recycling and composting in 2014, more than 3,600 pounds of compost has been created and more than 21,300 pounds of material has been recycled. The team also reports that the 2016 event diverted from landfills 57 percent of total waste, through its composting and recycling efforts.
"What the alumni have come back to say is that you can't get that kind of experience anywhere else," said Claudia Dávila, the UA's assistant director of student governance and programs and a Spring Fling board member.
While studying at the UA, Dávila also was involved with Spring Fling. She served as a director in 1991 and has been advising the student group since 2001.
"These are great learning experiences," she said, "and we take great pride in that."
What43rd Spring Fling
Spring Fling Hours*
- Friday, April 7, 4-11 p.m.
- Saturday, April 8, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Sunday, April 9, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
*Admission closes one hour before listed closing time.
Full event details are available online: http://springfling.arizona.edu/
The Spring Fling hotline, available at 520-621-5610, will be active starting April 3 at 8 a.m. Inquires also may be made via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After Spring Fling, the student-led team will be sending volunteers to the Sam Hughes neighborhood during the mornings of April 8 and 9, along with the early evening of April 9, to collect trash.
And mark your calendar: Spring Fling 2018 dates have been approved as April 13-15.
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