Students and parents celebrate UMD’s 37th annual Family Weekend

By Jamie Kerner

The University of Maryland welcomed students’ families to join the campus community in celebrating the 37th annual Family Weekend from Oct. 13 to 15.

Throughout the weekend, students and their families had the opportunity to attend various events on and off campus.

Family weekend is run by the Office of Parent and Family Affairs and the Division of Student Affairs. It is an independent event that does not receive funding from the university, student fees or Maryland Parent & Family Association Funds.

More than 1,000 families registered for the events before arriving at the university, according to Kelly Hedgepeth, a meeting services manager within the Conferences and Visitor Services department. On-site registration was also accepted. Hedgepeth estimated that there would be about 1,500 registered families by the time the weekend was over.

Students and their families check into Family Weekend at the Family Weekend Welcome Center.

Each family received a clear stadium bag when they checked into the Family Weekend Welcome Center in Stamp’s Grand Ballroom. The bags contained registration materials like game tickets, a parking map and official Family Weekend wristbands.

Some of the most popular and widely attended events of Family Weekend each year are the President’s Open House and the Terp Family Festival & Tailgate.

At the President’s Open House on Friday evening, registered attendees had the opportunity to attend a reception at the University House hosted by President and Mrs. Loh. Students and their families ate light refreshments as they mingled with the President and other university staff.

“It’s a nice opportunity for students and their parents to go to the University House, and it’s important to President Loh and his wife to kind of welcome and greet the families and to recognize the importance of the family involvement and to continue to foster positive experience for their students and everything on campus,” Hedgepeth said.

Displays of items being auctioned off during the weekend-long silent auction

The Terp Family Festival & Tailgate was held on McKeldin Mall on Saturday afternoon before the football game. The event, which required attendees to purchase an additional ticket beforehand, featured a barbecue buffet and live music.

According to Hedgepeth, around 1,500 to 2,000 tickets are typically sold for this event.

Freshman Emily Wexler from the school of letters and sciences attended the Terp Family Festival & Tailgate with her family, but wasn’t totally satisfied with its offerings, despite its popularity.

“The Terp Family Festival & Tailgate was fun but could have been more spirited,” Wexler said. “For instance, they could have been more spirited while getting people more excited for the game… the food options also weren’t great, as they did not have the usual tailgate food. My favorite thing about it was having a meal with my family and just hanging out.”

Other events held throughout the weekend included open houses of the university’s different colleges, religious services and meals, crafts, off-campus excursion and more.

Additionally, nighttime candlelit ghost tours were held on campus in honor of the superstition surrounding Friday the 13th, the first day of this Family Weekend.  The tours departed from allegedly haunted Rossborough Inn, where students and their families visited the university’s ghostly inhabitants.

Parents looking at items they want to bid on during the Silent Auction

Throughout the weekend, families could take part in the 15th annual Maryland Parent & Family Association Silent Auction, held at the Family Weekend Welcome Center. Auctioned items included Maryland memorabilia, kitchen appliances and home decor. Money raised from the silent auction will go to the Maryland Parents Association Scholarship Fund, which then distributes the money through scholarships to aid to students struggling financially.

Family Weekend is a yearlong planning process. Besides its two main organizers, the planning committee includes representation from different departments on campus. Cait Bjellquist, the program coordinator within the Office of Parent and Family Affairs, said the event has been well-received.

“We have an overwhelmingly positive response to our Family Weekend, which is one of the largest in the country,” Bjellquist said. “The majority of families who attend are here with first-year students but many come back year after year. Having a designated Family Weekend is a great reason for families to come and visit their student regardless of class year.”


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