As members of the Yale community prepare for this weekend’s Tercentennial festivities, people in the greater New Haven community are greeting the celebration with open arms.
Although town and gown have not always seen eye to eye on shared issues, the two are in accord regarding the University’s biggest celebration in 300 years. University officials and community leaders agreed that New Haven residents have reacted positively to the yearlong gala that culminates with events today and tomorrow.
Michael Morand, associate vice president of Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, said he expects a strong turnout to this weekend’s festivities from many enthusiastic New Haven residents.
He said his office has found New Haven residents interested in the myriad events surrounding Yale’s big birthday, adding that all the festive events of the past year have allowed the University to strengthen its relationships with City Hall and community groups.
“Even those who may have critical perspectives realize that Yale is an asset for New Haven just as New Haven is an asset for Yale,” Morand said.
Yale Police Chief James Perrotti said that while he has not had the opportunity to talk to community members about this weekend’s events, he has heard positive feedback about the other tercentennial events. He said that the tight security for the speech by former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73 on Cross Campus might create obstacles for some residents, but added that his department is trying to make the event as New Haven-friendly as possible.
“There are certain security issues and techniques that need to be accomplished and cause inconvenience,” he said. “The degree of that inconvenience? I’m not sure. We try to keep that to a minimum, but obviously, security for former President Clinton is the top priority.”
New Haven resident Susan Hartt said that her neighbors who live behind the Yale Bowl expect Friday’s performances at the stadium to be disruptive but are very excited to be part of the historic event. Hartt is the executive director of Market New Haven, a non-profit foundation designed to promote New Haven tourism and culture and an organization to which Yale contributes financially.
The Tercentennial activities began last October when the University held an open house to showcase the school’s facilities to city residents, including the science laboratories and residential colleges. With 35,000 attendees at that event, Yale was able to strengthen its partnership with the city and make residents feel welcome on campus, Morand said.
“We intentionally launched the Tercentennial with an open house for the community,” he said.
Hartt said the response of New Haven residents who may be unhappy about the Tercentennial events is hard to track: “People don’t go up to each other and say ‘I hate the Tercentennial.'”
But, she added, “There are people in this community who will never stop talking about last October.”
Although the Tercentennial celebrations are drawing to a close, University and city officials agreed that Yale will not sever its ties with the city.
“It’s our intention as a university to keep the momentum and enthusiasm,” Morand said. “Contributions to a strong New Haven are not a special one-year event.”
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano agreed.
“As often as Yale opens up, the community will respond in kind,” he said.