Simon Says… It’s Fall Y’all was held by President John Simon on Saturday to bring Lehigh students and their families together with staff and administration to celebrate the season and promote bonds within the community.
“(The festival) is one of the most popular events amongst students,” said Arielle Willett, a graduate assistant at Student Center Facilities. “It’s a great chance for students who might not otherwise meet the president to do so and actually see him. Many students are curious.”
Though it is only the third year the event was held and Simon’s first year as president of the university, the fall festival in the president’s home has become a campus tradition. Because it was Family Weekend, students and families were invited to attend, transforming the annual tradition.
“In the past (the festival) was more of a Halloween event,” Willett said. “Students would come in costume, and they could even win prizes for having the best costume. But now it has turned into more of a fall event.”
The autumn festival offered a wide variety of activities and treats including a petting zoo, a hot cocoa bar, a coffee bar, a caramel apple bar, face painting and caricature artists. Music and sound services were provided by Lehigh student organizations.
Carol Hill, the director of Student Center Facilities, noted that the planning and coordination for the festival began at least six weeks in advance and that the student body was more than willing to assist.
Lehigh undergraduate and graduate students volunteered to paint the mason jars that lined the walkways and posters that could be seen around campus. Students also signed up for hour-long shifts in which they helped to set up and clean up the event. The name of the festival itself was chosen through a student submission contest that ran through the month of September.
“Students are already involved in a lot of the preparation, and we really hope to see student participation increase in the future,” Hill said.
Simon was also extremely involved in the planning of the event and wanted to host it in order to open up his home, and get to know students and their families. According to Hill, Simon was receptive to many suggested changes to the event, such as physically expanding to encompass his backyard and the area in front of the Alumni Memorial Building.
“President Simon has been more than agreeable to everything we proposed, even his photo on the poster,” Hill said. “This was really a way for him to reach out and have interactions with students. The event is truly becoming a tradition.”
The event was an attempt to integrate the Lehigh community, and according to George Halal, ‘19, it was a success.
“There was a lot of good food,” Halal said. “(The festival) raised the Lehigh spirit and brought people close to one another. It unified the community.”
Throughout the night, Simon could be seen on his front porch greeting students and their families. He was also available for photo opportunities as families made their way into his home.
Simon noted, “It (was) building community, by bringing parents, students, and administration together in an informal setting.”