Games of Candyland, face paint, and wooden toy trucks filled Linsly-Chittenden Hall on Saturday as New Haven families flocked to Old Campus for Communiversity Day.
Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service organization that sponsors the annual festival — a free event filled with song, dance and plenty to eat — moved many of the booths and events inside as rain mixed with the steam from the barbeque grills. Though fun for Yale students, the event was originally designed to welcome New Haven residents into the Yale community.
“When Communiversity Day started 20 years ago it was a gesture to the community, and now it is a symbol of many other things Yale is doing in the community,” said Yale President Richard Levin, whose discretionary fund helped to pay for the event.
Levin was unable to attend.
The event was also sponsored by the Office of New Haven and State Affairs, the Undergraduate Organization Funding Committee, the Council of Masters, and Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead.
“It’s important that students work with New Haven,” said Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93, associate vice president of the Office of New Haven and State Affairs. “It’s equally valuable to welcome our neighbors onto our campus.”
Approximately 200 New Haven residents and Yale students turned out for the celebration, which drew about 1,000 people in each of the last few years.
As the afternoon progressed and the weather cleared up, more residents and students flocked to the fair.
Many student and neighborhood organizations sponsored booths that catered to elementary school children. Sororities Pi Beta Phi and Kappa Alpha Theta painted butterflies and dragon flies on smiling faces.
“I used to love getting my face painted — so it’s fun to do it from the other side,” said Anna Kimsey ’05, a member of Pi Beta Phi. “Little girls love it.”
The Yale Student Environmental Coalition helped children plant their own seeds, and members of the Initiative for Representing Integrity and Sisterhood helped students write their names in Asian languages.
“A lot of kids have [planted seeds] and they really like it. They get something to take home afterwards,” YSEC member Maggie Dietrich ’05 said.
Performances were held on Old Campus as the sun came out in the afternoon. Yale Children’s Theater and the Yale Precision Marching Band were among the performers, as were young New Haven residents who sang and danced as part of a talent show.
The event’s most enthusiastic participants — the New Haven kids — uniformly enjoyed the day. Carlos Cabral, a 10-year-old with a dragonfly painted on his cheek, a toy truck made at a booth by the Eli Whitney Museum, and a cup of soil planted with some seeds, was smiling from ear to ear.
“It’s great. It’s cool,” Cabral said.