Party on 7th Avenue: A day of community and celebration

Allie Rial and Charlie Roiland

On Saturday, Oct. 15, 7th Ave. was more alive than ever. Music performed by Augustana’s jazz ensembles and various other musical groups replaced the usual bustle of traffic as students, families and alumni gathered to celebrate the inauguration of President Andrea Talentino, Augustana’s first female president.


Following the inauguration of Augustana’s ninth president, 7th Ave. was shut down as festivities began. Street party attendees had the opportunity to participate in activities including stuffing their own stuffed animal, jumping in a bouncy house and grabbing a snow cone. Tacos, pizza and other food items were available for 1 dollar and all proceeds went to Talentino’s charity of choice –the Rock Island High School Resource Room.

According to inauguration committee member Nicole Lauer, the Rock Island High School Resource Room donates resources to Rock Island residents in need. All of the money raised from the event will go towards helping members of the community.

“The Rock Island Resource Room doesn’t just serve the high school students,” Lauer said. “It serves students and families throughout the district who may be in need of food or hygiene items or other supplies.”

A large turnout would mean a greater chance of a large donation to the charity. Despite the chilly weather, 7th Ave. was packed. Students, families and alumni lined up to grab a taco and a slice of pizza as the sounds of jazz and ukulele performances filled the air.

While the day started off chillier than many preferred, students made the most of the opportunities provided. Many people showed up with friends or family, and the result was a great time for everyone.

 “It’s crazy how many people are out here especially with this cold weather,” junior Xander Thomson said. “It’s just been a great day.”

The many different events and opportunities allowed students and alumni alike to enjoy the experience. The stuffed animal and balloon animal booths proved popular not just among alumni and their children, but among students and faculty as well. 

First-Year Leah Mack was most excited about the stuffed animal booth and managed to get there before materials ran out, which happened rather quickly. 

“I got to make a stuffed animal, like a Build-A-Bear type thing,” Mack said. “They have little Augie shirts.”

Scattered throughout the many booths was a plethora of Augie memorabilia. The stuffed animals came with Augie shirts, one booth sold yellow and blue popcorn and a table outside Brunner boasted various Augie merchandise where alumni and current students could grab a bag, water bottle or pen for free.

While the event was planned as a celebration of Talentino’s inauguration, the main purpose was to come together and have fun as a community. 

“The street party was really an opportunity, in a more casual way, to come together and still celebrate the weekend,” Lauer said.

That community presence was felt with exclamations of individuals reuniting, friends laughing while playing games and music showcasing the talents of Augie students. It was an easy way for everyone to come together and relate to one common factor: Augustana.

Sophomore Jessica Cotturone really felt the excitement of the fest and hoped for more similar events in the future. 

“I wish they did things like this more often,” Cotturone said. “I think it’s really nice to just get engaged with the campus community.”

Adding to the excitement alongside the many activities and opportunities were the performances from Augustana’s jazz ensembles. The jazz band performed for thirty minutes at the beginning of the street fest as well as thirty minutes at the end of the event. Performances from the three jazz combos were heard in between.

“It’s a big deal,” jazz professor Dr. Joel Linscheid said. “I think [the students are] excited and the music department is really proud of all our ensembles.”

The musical performances provided another way for students to be involved in the celebrations. They also kept people entertained while waiting in line for food. 

Although the fest was scheduled to run from 2-4 p.m., people began showing up earlier. Many lingered around the area talking to friends long after the event was scheduled to end and vendors had packed up their booths.

“I thought that I would want to go home a long time ago, but I stuck around here because it actually ended up being quite fun,” Cotturone said.

The combination between the inauguration and homecoming was also appreciated. Multiple reunions and alumni events were scattered throughout the street fest, allowing those returning to Augustana the opportunity to reconnect while still being a part of the inauguration festivities.

“I think it’s awesome that it wasn’t just the inauguration and everybody goes home; they could stay and they could hang out,” Thomson said.

With everyone getting to celebrate the new president on campus as well as reunite with old friends, it was agreed the street fest was an excellent way to start off President Talentino’s term. 

Sophomore Jacob Badger thought the high attendance showed the event’s success.

“[It was a] good way to bring some people together, bring a lot of alumni back that have something invested in the school just to see the new president and where everything’s going,” Badger said.

Attendees are sure to remember the excitement of the day. “It’s a lot more than I expected,” Cotturone said.

The success of the street party was apparent to everyone who attended. The event required quite a bit of planning from Augustana’s inauguration committee, which was not a simple feat. The majority of the committee was not around for the inauguration of former president Steve Bahls in 2003.

“This is only the ninth time we’ve inaugurated a president at Augustana in 162 years,” Lauer said. “There was kind of a show of hands of how many people had been involved in any kind of inauguration… the number of hands that went up was very few and far between.”

Because the inauguration was such a historic event, the committee wanted to make sure that it was one to remember. Many of the events, including the street fest, were planned with President Talentino’s intentions in mind –to have an event that gave the community a chance to bond. 

“We took a lot of cues from President Talentino about what she wanted for this event,” Lauer said. “She wanted it to be meaningful and a special event for the community, but also something that was more casual and a chance to connect. We really tried to run with that.”

This approach played out well as the pricing favored the students and the atmosphere brought joy to everyone. “I love how some of the things that they offer[ed] are cheap so you can actually do things and not pay a ton,” Cotturone said.

The affordability aspect was greatly appreciated, especially by the students. This was another step to make the fest available to everyone and to encourage students to attend and be a part of the historic celebration.

Because the event was one for the community, there was a little something for everyone to enjoy. Sophomore Sergio Mendieta agreed that the fair had lots to offer. “The photobooth is always fun,” he said.

Between the photobooth and the jazz performances, no one in attendance was bored. The community aspect of the event included children from Longfellow school along with Rock Island community members. 

There were many grinning children proudly displaying their balloon animals (or swinging their balloon swords) as they ran around 7th Avenue. Their enjoyment added to the sense of community as it provided proof that even the youngest members were valued at the celebration.

“The event [was] really intended to be a family opportunity to come together, in addition to wanting students there,” Lauer said. “We want[ed] alumni groups there. We really wanted to create an event and host an event that [was] inviting to a wide variety of people.”