Gorilla Fest kicked off the first football game of the season Thursday, Aug. 30, with food, music, and traditional pre-game pep rally. PSU Alumni & Constituent Relations hosted Gorilla Fest for all Gorilla fans, both community members and students.
“This is just a way for us to engage our alumni and friends, to show them a good time when they come back here for the football games,” said Jon Bartlow, director of Alumni & Constituent Relations. “We give them an opportunity not only for the football game but to hear some live music, eat from our various food vendors, and just have a general good time.”
Bartlow said a lot of planning went into the event and that he was excited to see the turnout.
“It’s always interesting trying to get everybody coordinated and make sure you’ve got new staff and various offices, and so you are trying to get everybody on the same page.” he said. “We start planning this during the summer and get a lot of the food vendors in the vans and everything lined up … but we are excited it’s here.”
Bartlow said he enjoys seeing the Pittsburg community getting involved in Pitt State events such as Gorilla Fest.
“I think that Pittsburg State is very lucky to have a really amazing relationship with the city of Pittsburg,” he said. “… I think the folks in the city, whether they went to this university or not, are always excited to come out … it’s something that gets the whole community involved.”
Gorilla Fest is not only a way to show Gorilla pride, but it is also an opportunity for groups to spread awareness to the community. Among these groups was Drive to Zero, an initiative that promotes preventing crashes related to impaired and distracted driving. Drive to Zero is in collaboration with Pitt State Athletics, PSU Student Affairs, Gorillas in Your Midst, and SEK-CAP Safe Ride.
“What we try to achieve in this traffic safety issues are education, enforcement, and engagement,” said Douglas Ballou, managing partner and bureau of transportation and safety representative. “… We are very excited of what’s occurring here at Pittsburg State because this kind of coalition did come together really nicely.”
Ballou said that their vision through the Drive to zero initiative is to drive fatalities to zero. The group initiative held driving simulations during Gorilla Fest to spread awareness.
“The simulators afford people the opportunity to really understand the risk they put themselves and others at by drinking and driving or texting and driving,” Ballou said.
Taylor Panczer, Campus Activities Center (CAC) program coordinator of prevention & wellness, encourages students take advantage of alternatives to impaired driving provided by campus.
“We are partnering with this initiative because obviously we stand for the Drive to Zero initiative, we want to get impaired drivers off the streets …” Panczer said. “This is why we have the safety ride program here on campus. … Safe Ride is an alternative way home so if you are too impaired to drive then you can call Safe Ride, (it’s) on demand where you can call and they will pick you up where you are and drive you home.”
Safe Ride operates from Wednesday through Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Students along the Safe Ride route can expect a bus every 30 minutes or can call for service at (620)-719-0135.