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Freshmen get blue on A-Day

CLAIRE C. LAURENCE/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Communication freshman Meredith Entsminger and undecided freshman Kelly Baublits battle a barrage of blue paint on Saturday morning.
By Nathan Tafoya
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, September 29, 2003

On Saturday, over 300 freshmen woke up early in the morning, grabbed some mops and buckets, and willingly got messy.

They weren't cleaning their dorms or auditioning for a new musical; they were painting the "A" on A-Mountain.

The event, called A-Day, is a chance for freshmen to learn about the traditions and history of the university.

The UA's Blue Key National Honorary sponsored the event.

Freshmen arrived at the Old Main fountain at 8:30 a.m. After receiving a crash course in UA history and learning the words to "Bear Down," they were piled in buses that took them to the mountain.

Since 1915, the "A" has usually received a whitewash coat, but after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, red, white and blue have striped the giant letter.

The freshmen re-painted the bottom third of the "A" blue. The red and white remained untouched.

"It would have been difficult to organize something where we painted the red and white because they are on the top," said Brittney Schmidt, president of Blue Key, explaining that the paint would trickle down and make a mess. "It was more of a symbolic gesture this year."

When dealing with the nation's colors, protocol calls for any display to run from blue at the top, then white, then red, said Jim Drnek, Blue Key adviser.

The "A" is painted red, white and then blue at the base.

Drnek said he has been asked to switch the colors, but decided not to do it this year because it would have been too complicated.

"Coming up here is more of a fun activity versus, you know, painting the whole thing and making sure it's perfect," Drnek said. "We don't really have the resources to correct it. Maybe someday we will."

The 300 freshmen did not seem to care about the bottom third of the "A" being red or blue.

Collette Gallegos and Katie Lopez both grew up in Tucson and said they have wanted to paint the "A" since they were children.

"I painted the bottom of that blue part," Gallegos said, pointing. "I only painted like, a little tiny section because I wanted everyone to get a chance to use the brooms and stuff. I'm glad I didn't get any paint on me though."

Freshmen not only had to be on the alert for spills and wet broom accidents; they had to keep an eye out for other freshmen running around with buckets of diluted paint.

"We painted the 'A' with mops and stuff, and then when we were done painting, we just started throwing it on the girls," said Chris Longo, laughing. "Smurfs. They're all little Smurfs."

One blue-covered freshman, Rose Parsons, said she and some friends shopped for clothes specifically for A-Day.

"I'm not worried about my clothes," she said, looking down. "But the shoes I'm wondering about."

"It's a souvenir," said Jane Anderson, standing next to Parsons and examining her own blue shirt.

Even though Eric Carfagnini stayed up partying on Friday night, he woke up at 7:30 a.m. in order to meet at the fountain.

"It was awesome," Carfagnini said after returning to the UA from the mountain. "I wouldn't miss it. I'm glad I woke up."

Drnek said A-Day was very successful this year, due to the positive attitudes among the freshmen, the improved coordination among organizers and the number of mops and painting resources available to the students.

"You only get to do this once," Anderson said. "They had to talk me into going, but I'm glad I went."

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