Schenectady County

UAlbany students make splash on campus (with video)

It was a nuclear explosion of fun, better than Christmas and a campus holiday.

It was a nuclear explosion of fun, better than Christmas and a campus holiday.

All were terms used to describe the University at Albany’s annual Fountain Day. About 9,400 students and 400 alumni participated as the nearly 80-degree temperatures made the water fountain a perfect escape from the heat and studying for final exams just around the corner.

After a 10-second countdown by interim President George Philip, the fountain turned on and sprayed water into the air as the throng of bikini-clad women and bare-chested men splashed around in the fountain while tossing multicolored beach balls back and forth.

“The water is nice and refreshing. It was cold,” said junior Nick Gabriele of Rotterdam, who was participating in his first Fountain Day.

A few dozen people were treated for minor injuries such as cuts and bruises from slips and falls, according to university spokesman Karl Luntta. Most were treated on the scene, although at least one person required hospitalization.

In 2005, the college revised the event — which dates back to the late 1970s — to improve security after at least 16 students required medical treatment after cavorting in the fountain or drinking too heavily.

The event was moved from Thursday to Sunday afternoon. Also, students are required to get a ticket for the event, security guards restrict the number of people in the fountain at one time and require people to use separate entrance and exit stairs.

Four hundred volunteers and staff supervised the event Sunday. Christine Bouchard, vice president of student success for the university, said in an effort to improve student safety, this year the school mandated that once students left the event’s gates, they could not re-enter.

College officials have added other activities during the past few years. Those who didn’t want to get wet could also listen to music from campus radio station WCDB 90.9, participate in jousting and wrestling, get a caricature of themselves, have their picture taken or get a massage or temporary tattoo.

They could also watch the school’s Greek organizations perform in front of the main stage or watch the university’s fencing club in action.

In addition, hot dogs, chips, cookies and soda were provided courtesy of the University Auxiliary Services and the Division of Student Success.

Bouchard said Fountain Day is always a popular event. “They love it because it’s a chance for everyone to come together and celebrate the end of a long, cold Albany winter.”

“Everyone comes together and it’s fun,” said senior Ashleigh Byrne of Clifton Park. “You meet different people.”

Junior Meg Murray of Niskayuna said it was an “awesome” experience. Murray said the best part is being with friends, since this is one of the last campuswide events of the year.

Anna Adelman of Syracuse compared the event to Christmas — without the religious element.

“Look at this,” she said, gesturing to the boisterous crowd. “It’s freaking crazy.”

Junior Amanda Boyd of Queens said the event is a chance for everyone to cut loose. “On Fountain Day, everyone shows their true colors.”

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