By Louie Diaz Jr.
The 44th Annual Parade and Picnic started way before the loud and spirited crowd of students marched down Yonge Street.Sacha Blasiak-Priestley, a second-year information technology management student and Julie Wojteczko, a third-year ITM student were drinking in front of the Business building out of two Ryerson water bottles. Both bottles were filled with Okanagan apple coolers. They also had a Powerade bottle full of berry blitz vodka coolers. Wojteczko says the parade is a must-attend social event during the school year. “What other university can close down Yonge, the longest street in the world,” she asked. “It’s just a crazy day where everyone gets hammered.” Blasiak-Priestley proudly shows off the water bottle with the Ryerson logo and says that they attend the yearly event because “we have school spirit.” This same school spirit was as bright as the summer sun throughout the entire parade.
The graphic communications management students, who won the course union display of the year, sported a Survivor theme, complete with tiki-torches and camouflage bandanas. Blue water-buffalo hats with yellow horns signaled the loud and rowdy engineers of Ryerson. The architecture department continued to pull their float even after the front wheels of the contraption broke in the middle of the parade.
The 1,400 students arriving at the picnic grounds were greeted with free water bottles and extremely long lineups for food. And not even the tight no-shaving-cream-and-backpack rules could dampen the atmosphere. All shaving cream was confiscated by parade marshals and students were told to clean themselves off before boarding the ferry. “It’s been a blast,” says Dawn Murray, the programmung and campaign coordinator for RyeSAC. “The biggest parade in five years.”
Darren Cooney, v.p. of student life and affairs for RyeSAC, said the success of this year’s bash can be attributed to the early organization with the course unions throughout the summer. Headlining the event was rockers Danko Jones, whose $3,500 price tag was $1,000 cheaper than what rapper Choclair charged last year. The Mudmen also peformed, along with hip-hop DJ Baby Yu. The hip-hop spinner got the crowd going as people danced on top of picnic tables. As the day wore on dancers had to compete with a mounting tower of plastic beer cups looming on the table occupied by Ryerson engineering students.
Cooney said that the different types of music helped attract different students. Nine police officers, 35 parade marshals and six security guards kept the festivities peaceful. But the parade has had dark moments in the past. In 1984, 17-year-old Jeff NeMarshof, a friend of one of the students at the picnic, fell off the ferry, broke his neck and dies. In 1995, students attacked a busload of seniors with urine-filled water guns. Ryerson received dozens of complaints and the picnic was almost cancelled. And in 1999 a 20-year-old female Ryerson student collapsed and was taken to hospital for alcohol poisoning. But Murray boasted that this year’s party was a safe success. “I’m the only injury today and I got bit by a wasp,” Murray said.