Many universities across the country hold annual traditions dating back decades. Indiana University has the Little 500 Bike Race, Purdue has the Purdue Grand Prix and Drake University has the Drake Relays. With grand traditions such as these catching the public’s eye, they often take the spotlight away from smaller traditions or activities. However, for the students at the universities, these smaller traditions often create an even bigger excitement than the main event. For the Drake Relays, one of those traditions is street painting.
Compared to the Drake Relays, which has been going on since 1910, street painting may be considered a newer tradition. According to the Drake archives, street painting has been taking place since the 1970s. That is roughly 45 years of students claiming a section of the sidewalk and creating a design representing their organizations and clubs. This year Jessica DiDominick and Hannah Chesley are the 2016 Relay’s co-chairs on the Student Activities Board (SAB). Their role is to plan the various events on campus for students, including street painting.
“For street painting, our responsibilities are to provide applications for people to paint a square, approve square designs, work with security and maintenance to coordinate different aspects of the event, and to also prepare the street,” says Hannah. Preparation is no easy task. Jessica and Hannah’s have to contact individuals to be safety patrol to oversee the event, pick the day, approve square designs, as well as paint the street white (white wash). The white wash covers up the paint from the previous year.
Having the responsibility of overseeing the event was very different from the past two years. Both Hannah and Jessica feel that even though they were not in the initial paint fight, the event was a success and they had fun. “We got to see a different side of it because we are used to being in there throwing paint around,” Hannah explains. “I think it went really well,” Jessica states. “Everybody seemed to be having a lot of fun.”
The goal of the event is simple. It brings all the different organizations and clubs together giving them the opportunity to represent themselves. Ben Williamson, a first year student at Drake enjoyed the event and how it brought the university together. “I’m a mess, but it was awesome… The best part I think was just seeing all of my friends that I met throughout the year and… just getting together and doing one big thing.”
Other students such as Jen Vickers and Melissa Snavely agree that the event was just as fun as last year. “Last year I was painting the Alpha Phi square for most of the time so I didn’t really throw any paint around… this year I mostly got to do the fun art and throw paint at random people,” Jen explains. “I showed up later,” Melissa admits. “I wasn’t there for the initial ‘all out’ paint fight, but it was still really good and is always fun.”
At the end of the day, the 56 different squares, all of which represent 56 different organizations, paint a larger picture, which is the Drake community. For a university with such a rich history and a diverse amount of organizations representing it, there’s no wonder why street painting illustrates the Drake community. For the alumni who make their way back to the campus during the Drake Relays, it is like taking a trip down memory lane, literally. This is one tradition that will continue to run along side the Relays for years to come.