Showered in radiant pink lights, surrounded by food trucks and carnival splendor, students arrived in droves from on-campus dormitories and parking lots,, to Associated Student Inc.’s most well-attended event of the year — Smorgasport.
Lot E2 and the University Student Union were taken over by organization-run tables and carnival rides at the “All You Can Play Buffet” for ASI’s 18th annual semester kickoff.
“[Smorgasport] is arguably the biggest [ASI] event of the year,” ASI Senior Communications Manager James Ahumada said. “It’s been a three to four month planning process.”
Beginning in 2000, the free event was organized in partnership between ASI, the Recreational Leisure Department, club sports and athletics. Attendance to the event has been climbing in recent years, with last year’s Smorgasport reaching an attendance of about 6,000.
“Anecdotally, it looks like the biggest one yet,” Ahumada said.
In the past, Smorgasport has been the closing event for the Week of Welcome, occurring on the Friday of the first week of school.
This year, ASI and Beach Pride decided to move the event to the Friday before the first day, to avoid competition from other events, as well as to secure its place as the biggest ASI event of the summer.
ASI also teamed up with the Housing Department this year, which had its own week of orientation events, with Smorgasport acting as the finale.
“We haven’t had as many incoming freshman coming in, surprisingly, so I think this year we were able to get them to come,” Kysha Bloem, program assistant for Beach Pride events, said. “It’s really for them to feel at home. They just got here and they’re away from their families, they’re trying to start this whole new life with their new dorm and their new roommates. I think it’s a great opportunity to mingle and have fun.”
The event offered free recreation in the USU, including unlimited billiards, bowling and virtual reality gaming. Outside in Lot E2, larger carnival rides like Round Up and Tornado gave the event a true summer fair feel, lighting up the entire lot with a multicolored LED glow.
After waiting in a block-circling line to get an event access wristband, students were also able to compete in inflatable obstacle courses and play carnival games to win prizes.
Victorious students were marked by umbrella or plush chicken hats throughout the night, wired on Monster energy drinks and mocktails.
One of the purposes of Smorgasport is to create a controlled environment for students to enjoy as they kick off the school year.
“There are all these parties that happen when the semester starts, so one of the things we wanted to do as a department was to have an alcohol-free alternative,” Ahumada said.
Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drugs’ “mocktail” bar served drinks such as “Safe Sex at the Beach” and “Long Beach Ice Coolers.”
The night also provided an opportunity for newcomers to get to know their campus and create relationships with sports teams and student-run organizations.
“We always try to encourage people to make friends at Smorgasport,” Ahumada said. “You can start a friendship and I think that’s one of the huge benefits that starting off the beginning of the year always has.”
Collaborating with the Housing Department was an attempt to streamline the transition for incoming students and give them the opportunity to create new relationships with their peers.
“It makes us feel welcomed. They don’t just care about returning students, it’s about the new ones too,” Samanta Corte, first year liberal studies major, said. “Everyone is welcome.”
To watch our video coverage of Smorgasport click the video below.