Students planning to spend the weekend relaxing before the imminent arrival of midterms had the opportunity to do something a bit out of the ordinary — ice skate on North Campus.

The Center for Campus Involvement and the Go North! Initiative — a program that works to raise awareness about events and opportunities on North Campus — set up a synthetic ice rink on North Campus as part of Winter Blast, a two-day event held this weekend to increase appreciation for North Campus through a variety of winter-themed activities.

Located in the parking lot behind the Walgreen Drama Center, the rink gave the illusion of skating on real ice even though it was an imitation made from a plastic sheet coated with a layer of glycerin. The event offered free ice skating and skate rentals, and was open on both Friday and Saturday.

Winter Blast teamed up with UMix on Friday night, a program held various times throughout the semester and organized by the Center for Campus Involvement, to bring more than 700 students who attended a winter wonderland, despite the unseasonably warm weather. After students got off the ice they enjoyed a buffet and beverage station with hot chocolate was available for attendees and on Friday, Amazin’ Blue, a University a cappella group, also gave a musical performance.

LSA sophomore Juston Jaco, a program assistant for the Center for Campus Involvement, said his team worked diligently to organize an event for the winter semester that would provide students with a more exciting North Campus atmosphere.

“Our goal was to make an event that everyone would want (to attend) in the winter,” Jaco said. “We were brainstorming and thought the ice rink would be the best option. (We thought) North Campus would be the best place (to have it) because North Campus, from a student’s perspective, doesn’t get a lot of respect.”

He added that it’s been difficult to increase interest in North Campus and bring more students to the area.

“This gives students an opportunity to do something where they live, because a lot of freshmen live in Baits I, Baits II and Bursley,” Jaco said.

After Friday’s high turnout, Winter Blast hosted an ice carving competition on the North Campus Diag on Saturday, featuring the University’s Ice Carving team, as well as teams from Henry Ford Community College and Oakland Community College.

Numerous University organizations, including Do Random Acts of Kindness, Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center and the Inter-Cooperative Council, were also at Winter Blast to show their support, and the College of Engineering sponsored a pizza dinner and movie showing.

Nate Cradit, program advisor for the Center for Campus Involvement, said he was glad that the event brought a large number of participants, since the group spent a substantial amount of time and money planning it.

“This (ice rink idea) started back in early fall,” Cradit said. “We launched our new office Nov. 1 and part of that new office was a push to have creative, engaging programs that the (University) hadn’t seen before.” He continued: “For the number of students and family members that have been (skating), it was totally worth it.”

LSA senior Emily Samuelson, who competed as an ice dancer in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, offered skating advice and gave a skating demonstration at Winter Blast. Samuelson said she enjoyed her time at the event because she was able to fully experience North Campus.

“I don’t spend much time on North Campus (because) I’m an International Studies major, so all of my classes are back on Central Campus,” Samuelson said. “It is really nice for me to get out and really see what North Campus has to offer. I like North Campus, it’s a bit calmer than Central Campus.”

LSA freshman Ryan Overhiser, who lives in the Baits I Residence Hall, said he decided to attend Winter Blast on Friday to try something new, adding that he thought bringing the rink and other big events to North Campus will benefit the area.

“I’ve never skated before, so it was something I thought I would try out,” Overhiser said. “I feel like North Campus is kind of boring, so anything (Center for Campus Involvement) can do to get people excited or willing to come out and (attend) this kind of event is a good idea.”

Engineering freshman Liam Choi said bringing Winter Blast and the ice rink to North Campus helps foster a sense of community in the area while redirecting attention from the already popular Central Campus.

“I think it’s more about community. There are a lot of people on Central Campus that don’t know what is on North Campus,” Choi said. “I bet most people, like freshmen from Central Campus, have never been to North Campus. I think (Winter Blast) helped make students aware of what’s actually here on North Campus.”

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