Stosh Mintek ’03 spent his morning working at Yale’s Visitor Center before heading to Spring Fling, Yale’s student bash on Old Campus, the freshman quadrangle.
“It’s the easiest thing in the world to convince someone to come to Yale on a day like today,” a beaming Mintek said. “You just turn to Old Campus and point.”
Mintek, along with hundreds of his classmates, flocked to Old Campus for food, rides, student bands and a performance by Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, making the most of a gorgeous April day. Even with finals looming. Yalies still know how to have a good time, many students at the festival said.
Chris Heaney ’03 summed up the jubilant mood of the students in attendance. “You know you’re having a good time when you’ve got watermelon juice on your shirt,” he said, biting into a hunk of watermelon.
After consuming massive amounts of cook-out delights, students burned their calories on inflatable rides, including a moon bounce, climbing wall and boxing ring.
Other students mixed altruism with play. Fraternity Sigma Chi sponsored a pie-throwing booth to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network, a charity that helps raise funds for children’s hospitals across the country. Campus leaders, such as the student government president and newspaper editors, stood in the booth for 15-minute blocks while pies bought for a dollar flew at their faces.
Four student bands opened the show to mobilize the crowd. Students mingled, ate and danced while the bands played away — and when they stopped, several students took over the small stage, grinding away to recorded music.
As the day wore on, students awaited Harper’s performance with mixed expectations. Some were frustrated that the Yale College Council could not secure a bigger-name performer for the concert, especially in light of the increased Spring Fling budget of more than $90,000 in celebration of Yale’s tercentennial.
“The fact that Dave Matthews was the first [student] choice and then they got his opener was bizarre to me,” Amy Mechur ’01 said. “The administration made a big deal about how they were going to step things up for [the] tercentennial and then they didn’t.”
Other students weren’t as concerned.
“Spring Fling isn’t about how big an act plays. It’s just about hanging out with your friends and having fun,” Kristi Mahaffey ’02 said.
Once Harper started playing the first chords to “Voodoo Child,” by Jimi Hendrix, even the cynics began to enjoy themselves.
“I’m having a great time today,” Mechur said.
People who weren’t as familiar with Harper’s music or even the performer’s name also appreciated the show.
“This Ben Sharpton guy is pretty good,” Erik Hayward ’04 said.
Yalies danced the most and some even crowd-surfed when Harper’s played some of his popular songs, such as “Steal My Kisses” and “Burn One Down.” Many students said that the highlight of the performance was Harper’s cover of “Sexual Healing.”
“People put down their frisbees and started dancing. It was great,” Emma Ashburn ’03 said.
Despite the security guards checking bags for alcohol at the gate and the Yale and New Haven police officers inside the concert, some students managed to have illicit fun. Several anonymous students took Ben Harper’s lyrics to heart when he sang, “Burn One Down.” One sophomore asked, “How could we not smoke during this song?”
Chemically altered or not, the majority of students said they were having a good time. Though Ben Harper was the headliner for the concert, everyone agreed that the real star of the day was Mother Nature.
“I like Ben Harper but I think this beautiful day is much better music,” Conway Carter ’03 said.
In contrast to last year’s overcast skies and drizzle during Wyclef Jean’s performance, this year the weather cooperated and Yalies dressed appropriately.
“Everyone at Yale is going to be red tomorrow,” said Becca Falik ’04, clad in a tank top and shorts like so many students. “We’re not used to the sun.”