Calafia Armada performing afro-cumbia music on the Plaza as students and community members dance in the audience. | Photo by Amanda Schultz

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Clubs host a block party on the plaza
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Clubs host first block party on the plaza

Hundreds of students gathered around the Arcata Plaza at the first Humboldt State University Block Party to enjoy free barbecue and live music as a way to kick off the new school year on Sept. 14.

A long line wrapped around the plaza as the first 500 students awaited a free meal provided by the school including hamburgers, coleslaw and beverages.

As an alternative to the Associated Students BBQ on the quad, AS along with Center Arts, Forever Humboldt and a few other organizations teamed up over the past year to organize this event as a way to familiarize new students with the town of Arcata. The event was held in the Arcata Plaza and many new students were able to check out what this city has to offer.

Transfer student Amy Garcia enjoyed free food and the bustling crowds as she attended this event in downtown Arcata with her friends.

“This is probably my third time actually being over here in this area,” Garcia said. “I love how it’s a really small community and the weather is awesome.”

Many clubs and organizations on campus set up information tables in order to inform students about their services as well as handing out free stuff including pins, art, stickers, and flyers. By tabling, these clubs were in hopes of convincing more students to join.

Live music was provided by The Chulita Vinyl Club and Calafia Armada as guests walked around enjoying the information tables, art, and food.

Calafia Armada, a cumbia event collective based out of Oakland, drew a huge crowd as their upbeat songs inclined many to start dancing. Their lively performance was also accompanied by a short story they told about Queen Calafia, a fictional warrior queen California was named after.

One of the many students attending, Matthew Bahloul enjoyed the live performance by Calafia Armada.

“I was looking forward to the food and music,” Bahloul said, “The vibe is cool; I really enjoy live music.”

In between all of the music, a raffle for prizes was held by Associated Students. Giveaway prizes including tickets to upcoming AS Presents and CenterArts shows were provided by the university. Other raffle prizes were provided by local businesses such as Mia Bella Cupcakes, Bubbles, and Humboldt Jiu-Jitsu.

Both new and returning students enjoyed this event as it was a way to meet people and participate in a school related event without actually being on campus. Throwing the block party at the Arcata Plaza also allowed community members to enjoy the music and crowds, as well as learn more about the university itself.

Ashley Arcega, a senior at HSU, sat in the plaza with a friend enjoying the Friday evening as the event wound down. Since this was the first time the university has thrown an event like this, she was excited to see what it was all about.

“I think this event brings a sense of community,” Arcega said. “It brings all different kinds of people and students together which is really awesome.”

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