Pitt students attend ‘Welsfest’ block party amid pandemic


Jane Patz | Contributing Editor

“Welsfest,” a block party that took place Saturday on Welsford Street in South Oakland, drew much larger crowds of Pitt students than expected.

By Millicent Watt, Assistant News Editor

About 1,000 Pitt students sang “Let’s go Pitt!” in the chorus of “Sweet Caroline,” supposedly broke a front porch and stood shoulder-to-shoulder this weekend at “Welsfest” — a block party on Welsford Street in South Oakland.

The block party took place on Saturday between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. It was supposed to go until 7 p.m., but according to City police spokesperson Maurice Matthews, Pitt police shut down the party at 6 p.m. “due to complaints regarding the unreasonably large crowd.” The party also garnered the attention of many local media outlets.

According to Matthews, the City’s Special Events office issued the party’s permit under the impression that the party would be limited to Welsford Street residents — estimated to be about 100 people. With the permit, guests “within reason” were also able to attend. The office estimated there would be about 200 to 300 people altogether.

Matthews said the City’s public safety department believes the applicant “did not adequately represent the true intent of the event.” He also said Special Events will review the parameters of future block parties.

Matthews added that “the crowd turned out to be far more than the highest estimate,” with about one to two thousand people in attendance.

Andrea Boykowycz, assistant director of the Oakland Planning and Development Corp., responded to a Pitt Barstool tweet about Welsfest, saying “Welsford is no Coachella.”

“Oh, darlings. I’m glad you had fun but no way is this going to be permitted next year. Or ever again. And no, Central Oakland is not your campus. And Welsford is no Coachella. And for gods sake [mask emoji],” Boykowycz said.

Many maskless people also attended Lantern Night on Sunday, which Pitt hosted outdoors on the Cathedral lawn. In response to the Pitt Barstool tweet and a tweet from Chancellor Patrick Gallagher about Lantern Night, Boykowycz said she’ll “leave it at that.”


“Just going to juxtapose these two tweets and leave it at that,” the tweet said. 

Pitt spokesperson Kevin Zwick said the University expects students to “demonstrate civically responsible behavior at all times” toward non-Pitt residents, including during parties. He also said both on- and off-campus students are expected to live by “common values expressed in the Pitt Promise.”

Zwick said Pitt will engage with students through campaigns starting Tuesday evening and “direct conversations.”

“Pitt will continue to engage with students through our Celebrate Responsibly and Be a Good Neighbor campaigns, which includes Oakland Safety Walks — the first of which begins this evening — and direct conversations with the student body,” Zwick said