At 8 p.m., students flooded into the gym with battle cries, determined to get their hands on a Strawberry Fest shirt. In the darkness, some articles of clothing began to glow underneath the only source of light: black lights.
Student Association (SA) members braced against the hungry onslaught. The staff were rhythmically cutting sandwiches, plating them and serving them to the masses. Within 30 minutes all that remained were empty plates and empty glasses. Students settled into seats and stands as they waited for the show to start.
There was a murmur in the crowd. Some wondered where the strawberry desserts were and others were puzzled by the change in format. Typically, Strawberry Fest directors have released short films around 30 minutes long, which students enjoy while eating their tasty strawberry treats.
This year, Anthony Matos, Strawberry Fest director and senior film major, wanted to depart from the typical order of events. His goal was to focus on throwing a final party for the students, paired with a short film highlighting life at Southern.
“My vision for Strawberry Fest was to give the student body a chance to forget about their finals,” Matos said.
When the lights dimmed around the stage, students might have expected the film to begin. Instead, Lumbercat took the stage for a 20 minute set, followed by The Matt Chancey band. The bands were well-known at Southern, as the bandmates are SAU alumni.
Instead of going straight into the film, Matos wanted to create an atmosphere where students could mingle, laugh with friends and enjoy the entertainment.
Madison Johnston, senior public relations major, enjoyed the musical acts.
“I loved the live music,” Johnston said. “I thought both of the groups were super talented, and it was awesome that members from each of the bands graduated from Southern.”
Most of the film was set to upbeat music, highlighting some of Southern’s main school events. Students cheered as they saw themselves or their friends flash up on screen. The video aimed to capture that life at Southern can be a party.
“I just wanted people to get pumped up. The video the last couple years had been more motivational and uplifting. This year was about energy,” Matos said.
Once the film finished, SA was quick to announce that in addition to the highly anticipated dessert portion of the night, there was another surprise. Students were directed to go to the tennis courts, and on their way they were able to grab a tart, filled with nutella, topped with strawberries and whipped cream. The tasty treats were prepared by culinary students.
Against a gray, overcast night sky the firework show began. It started with small explosions, low to the ground. At first, it seemed unimpressive, but within minutes the entire sky was filled with colorful explosions that whizzed, popped and sparkled. As if it was perfectly planned, the 10 minute firework show ended just as a sprinkle of rain began. Inside the gym, SA handed out the yearbook, and the end of the night signaled the close of another semester.