Short of pushing baggage through an x-ray machine, the sixth annual foam party was more secure than an international airport — and more chaotic.
Over 50 FAU Police, Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, security guards from a private firm, and Student Union staff kept 1,950 students safe while they smeared paint on themselves and danced in an inflatable foam pit Saturday night.
The foam party was thrown August 18 at 9:00 p.m. in the fenced in area behind the Student Union. The party was part of So Fresh week, a series of events for new students which started Sunday Aug. 12 and continues until Monday Aug. 20. This year’s foam party was funded by Program Board, a division of Student Government.
*** The Party ***
When students stepped out the back door of the Grand Palm room they were greeted by two walls of speakers on each side of the entrance walkway. On the southwest end of the party area was the DJ station where hundreds of glow sticks wrapped around necks were bobbing to the music played by DJ Bre.
An inflatable foam pit was set up in the middle of the party, behind DJ Bre’s booth and in front of the two inflatable water slides. Two foam generators hung over the pit, spewing foam converted from hot water on the crowd dancing below them.
“We got music for everybody,” Bre’s emcee said when the music transitioned from hip hop to house music. And although Bre also played rap and reggaeton, his set was primarily top 40 music.
Kerrie Jordan, a freshman majoring in exercise science went for a “new experience, and to have fun and dance.” According to Jordan, the best parts of her night were “the music and the paint.”
Kayla Spruill, a freshman undecided major, also went to meet new people, have fun, and dance in the foam pit. “There’s a lot of crazy people — they’re not afraid to get up on you and dance,” Spruill said.
Some in the pit were shirtless, others wore white clothing, but everyone was covered in paint. Dylan McGarry, a freshman majoring in architecture enjoyed the paint and foam.
“It’s fuckin’ badass because there’s paint and foam,” McGarry said. When Program Board volunteers handling the paint ran out, McGarry slid across the tables of the paint station to cover himself in the remaining paint. ”And because you gotta know how to party.”
Several students joined McGarry, rubbing their limbs against the table to absorb as much of the paint as possible.
“They may act crazy, but they’re not,” Lenny Wong said. Wong was the CSC security guard watching the paint station.
There were 1,950 students at the party, according to Alicia Keating, Director of Student Involvement and Leadership. When the paint ran out an hour into the party, however, the crowd thinned out significantly. And although there were 2,500 students at last year’s foam party, and 3,000 were expected to show up this year, Rosario still thought the night was a success.
“I’m happy with how everyone is reacting,” Rosario said. Last year she attended the party as a new student. “This year I’m working.”
Once the paint ran out, Rosario joined her volunteers in launching hundreds of glow sticks in the air over the dancing students. “I’m having fun,” Rosario said.
Although 1,950 students was less than the expected number of partygoers, the turnout was decent considering the rain storms earlier in the day which kept students from attending. Rosario claimed dozens of students called, texted, and emailed about the party being cancelled or rescheduled due to rain.
The party ended at 1 a.m., with students scanning the ground for pairs of sandals and T-shirts lost throughout the night.
“Props to whoever put this together,” Zach Whitehead, a sophomore majoring in exercise science, wrote on the event page. Whitehead’s sentiment was shared by other students.
“Last night was amazing! Thanks so much Program Board! This should be a semi-annual thing,” Rianon Barnhart, another FAU student wrote on the event page. Before those students enjoyed their night, however, they had to pass three security checkpoints on the way into the party.
*** Check yourself, Before you wreck yourself ***
Four rows of barricades formed the lines to enter the party. Some of the 40 Program Board volunteers were at the start of the line, handing out waivers to students wanting to party. No student was let into the foam party before signing the waiver, which freed FAU of any liability for the student signing it. Then halfway down the line was DJ Thunder, an Owl Radio DJ providing a soundtrack for the wait to get in.
Once students reached the end of the line, they showed their active Owl Cards to a security guard from the Contemporary Services Corporation (CSC), a private crowd management firm. When students passed the Owl Card checkpoint, there was another guard checking containers.
After passing that guard, students turned their waivers into a Union staffer while having a green bracelet snapped on their wrist. But there was another checkpoint after that: the metal detectors. Four women wearing CSC uniforms were using hand held metal detectors to scan students.
The last checkpoint before the entrance was for glowsticks. Volunteers from Program Board stood in the Grand Palm room, handing out glowsticks to students on their way into the party.
“You gotta release,” Wong said. “Work hard, play hard. Life is all a thing of balance.”
So Fresh 2012 started Sunday, Aug. 12, and continues until Monday, Aug. 20. The last two events are the Freshman Convocation and an Activities Fair.
[Ed. Note: In the original version of this story, it was reported there was 700 students at this year's foam party. This has since been corrected.]
*** By the Numbers ***
- The total budget for the party: approximately $30,000
- The budget for music: $600
- The budget for foam, slides, paint, glow sticks and bracelets: approximately $7,000
- The budget for security: approximately $5,000
- How many gallons of paint were used: approximately 20 gallons
- The final headcount of students: 1,950 Owl cards were scanned, not including approximately 40 student volunteers who ran the event
- The final headcount of security guards and police officers: approximately 50
Source: Alicia Keating, Director of Student Involvement and Leadership