Isla Vista First Friday Entices Students and Isla Vistans

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Addison Morris

IV First Friday, a free activity that UCSB Department of Recreation, Health & Wellness, Life of the Party, the Office of Student Life, and IV Recreation & Parks jointly sponsored, offers students and other community members a sober recreational alternative to Isla Vista parties.

This month’s event took place on Feb. 2 at People’s Park from 8:30 p.m. to midnight and featured outdoor events that defied Punxsutawney Phil’s (the groundhog) call for six more weeks of winter.

The event, which is open to the public, offered classes in Brazilian Dance, Zumba, and Cardio HipHop, alongside amenities like a climbing wall, inflatable archery station, and slackline.

Additional diversions included aerial silks seminars and giant board games like Jenga and Connect Four. After working up a thirst in a dance class or on the slackline, attendees blended their own smoothies — and burned some more calories — by riding the Blender Bike.

Other carnival activities were specifically geared toward college revelers, such as the condom ring toss and drunk goggle pong. Yet, even those events offered innocent fun suitable for onlookers of all ages. Overall, the event was well-attended, with hundreds of students and townspeople popping in over the course of the night.

Funky blue and purple disco lighting covered the park and accented the upbeat music, which pulsed from gigantic speakers, inviting guests through the inflated entryway into the carnival.

Free food and giveaways, which may have enticed college students more than anything, included s’mores, smoothies, PokeCeviche, Juice It Up!, and HiWi Fusion juices, Kind bars, and plenty of coupons from local vendors. The Recreation Center’s booth included a prize wheel, where winners received T-shirts, sports bags, wristbands, and phone pockets. Life of the Party, as always, gave away their customary alcohol-measuring red solo-looking cups.

The Department of Recreation Events and Summer Camps Coordinator, Ashley Marsh, responded to interview questions by email that the aim for IV First Friday was to create “a festival [to] showcase what our departments have to offer and [bring] safe fun to the community of Isla Vista.”

In concert with UCSB’s Recreation and Health & Wellness Departments, Marsh and other campus organizers were inspired by the Office of Student Life, who during past years hosted events on occasional first Fridays of the different months. The partners for this past weekend’s event borrowed the idea and created one big extravaganza, though they remain hopeful to continue with additional events.

“The idea for this event grew out of a conversation with our partners in June 2017…So it took about six months from start to finish,” wrote Sharlene O’Brien in response to interview questions, on behalf of the UCSB Health & Wellness Department. “An event like this requires coordination of multiple details such as securing insurance, lighting, permits, contracts, and agreements with campus and community partners. A lot of work was done by a lot of people.”

O’Brien expressed satisfaction that the hard work paid off. She wrote that Friday’s crowd enjoyed “a fun, evening activity where [students could] socialize and connect in an environment that [was] free of alcohol and drugs…[and in which] students [could] know that they are connected to a UCSB community that cares about them.”

Marsh expressed optimism that they will host more events. “IV First Fridays will continue to happen and student groups are able to contact OSL if they wish to sponsor a First Friday…If the student’s loved it, I’m sure we would consider hosting a similar event annually,” Marsh stated.