Mayfest 2015 goes on despite cold weather and Castle Court closure

Though some students were discouraged by the cold and the performers, crowds still filled Walnut Park for the annual event.

Four boys stood in the packed parking lot next to Castle Court, squinting through the falling snowflakes as they looked up at their fists, each clutching a Keystone Light.

A small crowd formed around them as they held their fists high.

“Three!” one of the boys yelled, starting the countdown. “Two, one … NOW!”

The four boys began smashing the Keystones against their skulls. Foam shot off in every direction, spraying scattering onlookers. Once the heads created adequate holes in the cans for drinking, three boys polished off the beers shotgun-style. Another popped the top and drank as beer gushed from the side of the can.

Syracuse University students celebrated Mayfest on Friday in Walnut Park with free food, live music and – if they were 21 or older – a maximum of two university-financed beers. Students turned in mixed reviews of the event due to the relatively unknown music lineup, shutdown of Castle Court and the cold – the temperature topped out at 47 degrees, not factoring in the wind.

“Some people stayed in because of the cold,” Alex Weiss, a  communication and rhetorical studies sophomore, said. “But we’re here having a good time. It’s our last day before finals to have fun.”

Still, the cold got to everyone. Hockey sweaters nearly outnumbered basketball jerseys (which were worn over sweatshirts), crop tops were covered with sweaters and long jackets and winter hats dotted heads in the crowd near the stage. When everyone clapped at Skizzy Mars’ request, the crowd produced a muffled sound from all the gloves. Mars himself wore navy gloves with a block orange “S” before the set.

Mars’ performance had gotten off to a slow start. The audio cut-outs meant to encourage audience participation hadn’t worked – people just didn’t know the music. Mars knew this may happen and tried to combat unfamiliarity with energy.

“(I started with) Monica Lewinsky because it’s fun, upbeat, mad jovial,” the rapper said. “… I  just want everyone to leave with positive vibes in their hearts.”

But this new artist many didn’t know was also one of the reasons some came, like broadcast and digital journalism freshman Tim Scott, who said the acts had potential. Others came for different reasons.

“I’m trying to get hammered as f---,” Steven Fore, a mechanical engineering junior, said. “Tee it high and let it fly!”

Jake Karliner, a history freshman, came with his fraternity brothers and for the free food, but not at all for the lineup.

Complaints of the musical acts were a common thread throughout the afternoon, but their volumes paled in comparison to the students upset at Castle Court’s closure. 

“This Mayfest sucks,” Sam Reiner, an American history junior, said. “It’s cold and Castle’s not open.”

Alex Brown, an information management and technology studies junior, said Castle’s absence is a continuation of the bad year Syracuse has had.

“I don’t know what’s worse,” he said. “The NCAA (violations) or Syracuse’s No. 1 party school ranking. Everyone thinks (the ranking) is great, but it’s the worst thing that could’ve happened because they (stopped parties).”

Standing near Castle Court, a man in a New York Jets jersey stood holding a near-empty handle of rum and a 12-pack of Natural Light. He did not want to be identified for this story – “My mom might read it,” he said – but thinks of himself, standing there, as a symbol of Mayfest. 

Other symbols wandered aimlessly throughout the park. Students dressed in suits as Pikachu, a Teletubby, a kangaroo, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, a panda, a dinosaur and even Santa Claus.

Still, the cold didn’t deter students from showing up. After Mars departed the stage around 4 p.m., a good portion of Walnut Park was still filled. For some, they wanted to enjoy their last Mayfest.

“It’s a great event,” Josh Hyber, a newspaper and online journalism senior, said. “No matter what grade you are … everyone comes together to be one university. Days like this make me proud to be an Orange.”

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