Gorilla fans painting Pittsburg red

Jen Rainey Collegio Reporter 

For students like Jessica Berberich, junior in English education and communication education, Paint the Town Red is a way to build excitement for the current school year and upcoming sports season.

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An estimated 300 third grade pupils from Pittsburg elementary schools participated in a balloon release during “Paint the Town Red” activities at Carnie-Smith Stadium on Aug. 28, 2009.

“I love driving down Broadway or around campus and seeing windows decorated and everyone getting pumped up,” said Berberich.

Paint the Town Red has taken place for six years and window decorating is the oldest event. There’s a community contest where area businesses paint their windows in PSU colors. This contest features small, medium and large business categories and last year over 100 businesses participated in the contest. There’s also a campus contest open to all organizations, fraternities/sororities and residence halls. About 20 participants have signed up to compete in the campus contest this year. Judging will take place during the day on Friday. The winners will be given a traveling trophy and will be announced at the Friday evening pep rally, which will also feature the PSU band, cheerleaders and football team.

Some students, like Jesse Denton, senior in communication and color guard for the band, have to participate in the rally because it counts in their classes.

“Part of our grade in band is to participate in the pep rally,” Denton said. “Paint the Town Red really does get the community involved in student life and gives members of the community who may not have gone to PSU the opportunity to feel like they’re still a part of the university.”

There will a

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lso be free pizzas at the pep rally, on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“We’re hoping for a turnout of around 200 people for the pep rally,” said Anna Gudde, special-events director at the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce. “Tim Beck, head football coach for the Gorillas, will also give a season outlook at the event.”

Paint the Town Red is more than just a pep rally, though. The event takes place Thursday, Sept. 8, through Saturday, Sept. 10.

“It gives the Pittsburg community a way to show support for PSU,” said Gudde. “Pittsburg kind of perks up when school starts.”

Gudde says it helps PSU, because the more support a university receives from its community, the more it pumps them up.

“When the Emporia State football team comes to play Saturday,” Gudde said, “we want them to feel a bit of intimidation by all of the support shown to the Gorillas.”

The festivities begin Thursday with a new event, “Meet and Greet the Gorillas,” taking place downtown between 5-7 p.m. Refreshments will be available at Europe Park. There will also be an athlete autograph session at Carnie Smith Stadium at 1 p.m., featuring all available PSU sports teams. There will be a balloon launch at 2 p.m. Friday at Brandenburg Field.

“For the balloon launch, we invite third-graders from Crawford County schools and usually have around 500 students in attendance,” said Gudde.

The community will have an opportunity to meet with former Gorillas from the 1961, 1981 and 1991 football teams, before the pep rally, at 5 p.m. Following the pep rally, the PSU Alumni and Constituent Relations Department will show the movie “Cars 2,” on the Jungletron. Saturday’s events kick off with a 5K run/walk to benefit PSU’s Students in Free Enterprise. Registration for the event begins at 8 a.m. with the run/walk scheduled at 9 a.m. The last event is at 7 p.m. Saturday when the Gorillas take the field against the Emporia State Hornets.

“We at the Chamber want to urge people to come out to the events,” Gudde said. “We want to get college students involved as well.”

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