CAB After Dark illuminates UWF

April 28, 2022

The smell of fried foods, sweet cotton candy and snow cone flavors radiated across the closed-off Commons parking lot, on April 15.

This could only mean one thing, the highlight of the spring semester was back, and this time it was bigger than ever.

For the first time since 2019, the UWF Campus Activity Board (CAB) lit up the night sky across campus during their biggest event of the semester, CAB After Dark.

Over 600 students walked around taking in everything the event had to offer, from balloon animals and temporary tattoo stations to light-up cotton candy to games, bungee trampolines and even a Ferris wheel, CAB brought the fair to UWF.

“I would never have expected to see a Ferris wheel on campus,” Nell Arnett, a senior communication and graphic design major said.

Lexi Miller

Prior to COVID-19, CAB After Dark had been an annual event that happened in the spring.

Students found a sense of connection with their fellow Argos throughout the evening as they made new friends and new memories.

“I think [events like this] will really bring the UWF community together,” Deja Gamble, an English major said. “Seeing all the students here at once and actually having fun with one another really does make me feel a sense of community at this college and that I actually feel safe here.”

Student, Remy Rheault wasn’t initially planning to come to CAB After Dark but decided to take the event as a chance to take a break from working on a group project.

“It gives students a break from the chaos that we’re going through every week,” Rheault said.

Hunter Morrison

“I hope it brings more people together because for the past few years we haven’t had much going on,” Zach Harris, a junior information technology major said. “I like seeing all these people connecting.” 

For Amos Davidson, Interim Assistant Director for Student Involvement, this was his first time running the event since joining UWF.

“I admit I was a little nervous,” Davidson said. “However, the event went very smoothly, and the students had so much fun.”

Lexi Miller

Davidson said that hearing all of the positive feedback from students who attended the event has been uplifting to hear.

Everything at the event, from the fun fair-themed food to t-shirts, frisbees and CAB fanny packs was free for students to enjoy.

In order to prepare and set up for the event, the Commons parking lot was shut down for two days causing students to have to park further away from the main section of campus.

“Since COVID, it seems like everything’s been kind of shut down and not very alive,” April Hunt, a freshman marketing major said. “This type of thing, especially when they close down the parking lot, I feel like it makes people go like ‘oh what is that? Why are they closing it down?’”

Hunter Morrison

Students enjoyed getting to connect with their peers outside of the classroom. For some, Cab After Dark was one of the first times they got to connect with the UWF student community since the outbreak of COVID-19.

“I love seeing people my own age,” Sincere Harris, a communications major said. “My freshman year I was online, so I never really got to socialize, so this really does help me meet friends and hang out. It feels good.” 

Lexi Miller

For CAB President, Jessica Ethridge, bringing CAB After Dark to life was one of her favorite planning experiences in her time with CAB.

“I went into this event planning process with one main goal: to bring back an iconic event that people remember and want to see reoccur year after year,” Ethridge said.

Ethridge wanted to see CAB After Dark be something bigger than it’s been in previous years. Her goal was to shock students with something that hadn’t been done before.

Once I had the idea of bringing a Ferris wheel to campus I did not stop until it was official. I believe so many people had a great night and will be looking forward to this event in the future.”

— CAB President, Jessica Ethridge

Students continuously lined up through the night to get a chance to ride on the Ferris wheel and experience CAB After Dark from above.

Lexi Miller

Sydney Roche, a sophomore studying marine biology also found that the event helped to bring people together as COVID-19 numbers continue to decline in Escambia county.  

“It kinda brings everybody together,” Roche said. “There are so many people out here having fun, people are communicating with each other. It kind of helps a lot with post-COVID issues that we’ve all been having like depression and anxiety because we’re all finally getting together and having fun.”

Lexi Miller

Katie Garratt is a CAB volunteer who feels that it’s important for students to realize that there is a campus community at UWF and felt that CAB After Dark represented that.

“With such a successful turnout tonight, I think people are really realizing that we’re back and we’re here to stay and we’re ready to be involved again,” Garratt said. 

Hunter Morrison

The event happened just before students needed to begin to prepare for finals. It gave them the chance to catch their breath and enjoy a stress-free evening on campus.

“It’s just a great way to just get out,” said Micaiah Parson, a communications major. “We’re all stressed with classes and all of our assignments and essays, tests and whatever else, but with things like this, it just gives us a chance to relax.” 

Hunter Morrison

With over 21 attractions, there was something for everyone do to.

“I’d like to see more large-scale events to facilitate the camaraderie and the options and things that students actually want to see,” said Dierre Johnson, a CAB volunteer. “They usually compare us to other campuses and things, so I think events like this really show that we can compete and it’s something fun to come to.” 

It took the work of many student volunteers and UWF staff members for CAB to light up the night during CAB After Dark.

“I want to give a special thank you to many organizations who helped promote, sponsor, and volunteer at this event including Ambassadors, fraternity and sorority life, BCM, and UWF faculty,” Ethridge said. “With the help of these organizations, my team, and Cabbie volunteers we brought together an event that took over the entire commons parking lot for the night and replicated a mini fair.”

“I was so, so, so proud of them,” Davidson said. “The program and the event are both student-led, and they knocked it out of the park.”

CAB After Dark was the biggest student event of the semester and is something students continued to talk about long after the Ferris wheel was taken down and the parking lot reopened.

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