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The eighth annual small-town welcome — unique among college towns — will run from noon to 5 p.m. and include free food, gifts and music for the 925-member class that arrives on campus Friday, Aug. 21, to begin five days of new-student orientation. || Semester preview
Linda Sterling, executive director of the Lewisburg Downtown Partnership, said the celebration helps to build a positive relationship between the new students and downtown businesses.
63 merchants participating
This year, Sterling said, 63 merchants will participate. Of those, 60 businesses and restaurants will offer welcome gifts, free food or music to students whose names are posted at the businesses.
"Participation climbs every year," said Sterling. "This is another all-time high. When the event was first organized, we had about 45 participants. Now, business owners look forward to this promotion as much as the students do, I think."
Amy Badal, assistant dean of students, said that the "Welcome to the Neighborhood" event evolved from a simple desire to welcome incoming first-year students to downtown Lewisburg to something that has a "wider impact on campus and community relations. The welcome creates a tremendous bond. Part of what makes it work is the fact that when students are acclimating themselves to campus they become acclimated to downtown as well so that it becomes part of the same experience."
Badal said it also gives the new first-year students a "very favorable impression of what will be their new neighborhood for the next four years of their lives."
One Market Street business, a yarn shop called Mad About Ewes, found knitting volunteers who helped to knit hats for gifts for students.
"Several of the hats are made from home-spun and dyed wool," said Sterling. "I've seen them and they look great."
After exploring the downtown area Monday, orientation will be capped by Convocation and Candlelighting ceremonies, the formal opening of the 164th academic year, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25. Classes get underway Wednesday, Aug. 26.
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