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Welcome Back hits Bigelow

Photo: Nikki Moriello / Visual Editor

Photo: Nikki Moriello / Visual Editor

Photo: Nikki Moriello / Visual Editor

By Amy Beaudine / Staff Writer

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Before freshman Leah Bailey ever competed for a top spot in an academic program or a place in line at Market Thanksgiving, she jumped into a giant plastic hamster ball and competed in a rolling race down Bigelow Boulevard.

“I’ve only ever seen them on TV, and … wow, it’s here,” Bailey, a freshman microbiology major, said before she climbed into the giant plastic orb at the Welcome Back Bash on Saturday.

The hamster ball was just one of the many of the activities available to students at the Bash. From 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Aug. 29, Pitt’s Student Affairs invited all students to participate in free laser tag, inflatable house games, hamster ball racing and mini-golf. The Welcome Back Bash also provided free customized hard plastic street signs, spin art frisbees, airbrush tattoos, a photo booth, caricatures, tie-dye booths and carnival games with prizes.

Student Affairs, the Office of First Year Experience, the Pitt Program Council and resident assistants collaborated to organize the bash. Alice Snook, a member of the Pitt Program Council, said the bash was meant as an opportunity for fun before classes started.

“It’s a fun kickoff to the school year before classes get started,” Snook said. “Last year was the first year for this, and this year it should be larger and have greater attendance.”

Snook estimated that a “couple hundred students” attended the event.

The food was the only part of the event that students had to pay for. Using $1 tickets, students were able to purchase a funnel cake for five tickets, a hamburger or veggie burger for three tickets, lemonade for three tickets or a hot dog for two tickets.

Snook said the University added the hamster ball as a result of student feedback. Abhi Dhanvada, a pre-med freshman majoring in bioengineering, said he wants to see a gladiator pit next year, while Bailey just hopes to see more activities.

“I wish there was more free stuff and more stations so that the lines would move along more quickly,” said Bailey.

Among all the festivities, Ekeni Abakah, a freshman business major, said he enjoyed the chance to meet other students before the hype of classes starts — not to say that he wasn’t also psyched about free laser tag and a chance to make a street sign with his name on it for his dorm room.

“I’m excited,” Dhanvada said. “It’s very nice of Pitt to provide us with free things and fun events like this.”

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Welcome Back hits Bigelow