First Thursdays takes place in person, spread throughout campus for social distancing

The First Thursdays festival kicked off Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. But this year, it wasn't just limited to the Fine Arts Plaza. Instead, due to COVID-19 restrictions, food trucks, performers and organizations were scattered around Showalter Fountain, the Arboretum and the Conrad Prebys Amphitheater. 

The First Thursdays festival is one of the few IU events held in person since the school year started. All performers, booth attendants and attendees had to register their attendance for contact tracing purposes. Social distancing rules, as well as a requirement to wear a mask, were set in place for the event.

Many booths for various IU organizations had interactive activities attendees could participate in as they made their way around the festival. 

IU Corps, a volunteer organization, had a booth at the event. They had a T-shirt customization station for attendees where each T-shirt said the phrase “I stand for” and below they ironed on a patch with a phrase of the student’s choosing.

“Some students chose to say equality, some are saying respect, or it can be like a phrase,” said IU senior Presley Batchelor, an intern at IU Corps. “Mine says total carbon neutrality.” 

Joe Hiland, the associate director of the Arts and Humanities Council, said it took a lot of people and time to organize the event this year.

“Usually, we just have everything in the Arts Plaza but to maintain social distancing we spread everything between the Arboretum, the Arts Plaza, and the amphitheater area,” Hiland said. 

Hiland said every element of the festival was spread out for public health precautions. Even among the extra measures, IU students who attended the festival enjoyed the normalcy and peace of mind brought to their campus experience this year at the event.

“Being cooped up in a room isn’t ideal for me, I want to get out there and meet people,” IU freshman Sean Pieszchalski said. “It’s really interesting seeing all these different performers participate in this.” 

IU senior Natalie Hedrick is a ballet student at the Jacobs School of Music who performed a ballet routine for the festival.   

“It’s a great joining of the community here on campus, and it brings everyone all together to see us perform,” Hedrick said.

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