The Yard @ College Avenue brings community together for Easter egg hunt
An Easter egg hunt was held at The Yard on the College Avenue campus on Thursday, inviting community members and students alike to join in on the holiday festivities.
Prizes were given out throughout the afternoon and an Easter bunny stole the show as people were quick to take pictures with the notable figure.
“This is the first April we’re open so this is the first Easter egg hunt we’ve had,” said Megan Feneis, a communications associate at the New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO). “We’re absolutely planning on having more in the future.”
The event involved half-hour segments in kicking off each "hunt." Participants rushed to find and claim the best prizes.
“Inside the eggs, there are gift cards to The Yard and numerous retailers, there’s also coupons and candy,” Fenneis said. "We also have a photo booth set up where people can get pictures with the Easter bunny."
When it opened in 2016, the developers of The Yard said they hoped the new College Avenue space would connect Rutgers with the New Brunswick and Piscataway communities.
“The Yard is a great spot for the community to come together, from people who work (and live) in the city to people at Rutgers,” said Vincent Velasquez, owner of MediaCutlet, whose company coordinates events at The Yard. "We feel this is such a great spot to interact the broader community with the student body."
Breaking new ground, students and community members can expect to see more events in the near future.
“This is our first year so we’re testing a lot of different opportunities,” said Christopher Paladino, the president of DEVCO and a graduate of the Rutgers Class of 1982. "We’ve got several events as school closes which we think are going to be interesting."
Planned events include swing dancing, salsa nights, live music, yoga, jazz, Shakespeare and a Metropolitan Opera night, Fenneis said.
"We’re always up for input from the community, there’s an email on the board for people to suggest whatever they want to see," she said.
Events like the Easter egg hunt are part a greater initiative to provide an inclusive area to Rutgers, something the campus has been missing, Paladino said.
“We think we’ve got off to a good start … I went to Rutgers and I think one of the things this campus has always lacked is a kind of sense of place and places for people to gather,” Paladino said. “I think as more and more people understand, is this piece here is open to the public, it's not just people who live in the building.”
Along with providing an inclusive environment, The Yard is catering to every type of student and their interests — student involvement is becoming a key goal.
“We try to keep things interesting and weird around here, last week we did an e-sports tournament with Mario Kart,” Velasquez said. “That's really what it’s all about making sure that we’re partnering with outreach organizations at Rutgers that can help us here too."
Building culture, Rutgers has become a staple and local attraction to the state and its surrounding towns.
“I think anytime you give an opportunity for people to be together you have an opportunity to understand each other a little better,” Paladino said. “Students come from all over the state, and all over the country, and all over the world to Rutgers and it gives them a better understanding of the community where they go to school."
With accomplishments and advancements in a broad degree of subjects, the University often serves as a benchmark for a younger generation who look up to those achievements, according to Rutgers.
“I think the Rutgers students have a great opportunity to serve as role-models for particularly the kids in New Brunswick," Paladino said. “To see the students in a more casual atmosphere reinforces those efforts.”
The Yard will continue to progress its reach and accommodations to the New Brunswick community. Currently seeking new ideas, visitors are asked to share their suggestions.
“It’s an organic process, we have about 8,000 emails we have collected from people who are using our free Wi-Fi," Paladino said. “I think it's important that any student or student group that would like to host an event here or would like us to help them and participate all they have to do is reach out to us, we want to be one of the places that host events that students want here at Rutgers."
Sharbel Skaff is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in exercise science. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.