Community comes together for Paint B’ham Blue for WWU
Students gathered in Red Square to kick off Paint B’ham Blue for WWU on Wednesday Sept. 27, 2017.
The event, now in it’s second year, is held to welcome new students to Bellingham and help build a sense of community.
Nathaniel Gaines, a second-year student at Western, estimates there were about 2,000 students gathered for the event. Gaines would know – he is working with the WWU Alumni Association – the organization in charge of orchestrating the event.
“I think it brings the school together, kicks off the start of the year, gets everyone excited and kind of brings out that school spirit that should be here all the time,” Gaines said.
He credits his positive outlook on Western and strong school spirit partially to his attendance at the same event last year when he was a freshman.
The event took students on a march from Red Square on Western’s campus to Depot Market Square downtown. On the way downtown, new students were greeted by alumni and current students on the sidewalks who offered encouragement in the form of friendly heckling or cheering. Some passed out water bottles or other snacks, while others just yelled from their houses or across the street.
Delaney Pickard, a freshman from Marysville, saw the value of the event.
“I think it’s important to create a sense of community, and show that everyone can be rallied together,” Pickard said. “And at the same time, it shows the spirit; everyone’s wearing their blue, everyone’s excited to be here.”
Once all the students were corralled in market square, there was a banner hung for them to sign, vendors to visit and live music performed by Noisywaters, a local band. Sabah Randhawa, President of Western, and Kelli Linville, Mayor of Bellingham, briefly addressed the students and offered them encouragement, congratulating them on their first steps toward higher education and telling them they are in good hands, as the community boasts some 15,000 Western alumni.
Even the Bellingham Herald showed their support for Western as they changed their famous sign from red to blue, and shot fireworks from their roof following the speeches.
“I knew it was the thing to be at for the start of the school year,” Pickard said. “Everyone was pumping it up, so that made me excited for it. I heard there was going to be free mac and cheese from Boundary Bay too, so why wouldn’t I be here?”