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DePauw orientation event finds new park destination

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First-year students from DePauw pack the hillside at Robe-Ann Park during Destination Greencastle Tuesday evening. Students were treated to a meal by local restaurants, had the chance to learn about local businesses and services and a listen to the Parkfest performance of Saturday Shoes. Banner Graphic/JARED JERNAGAN
GREENCASTLE -- After several years of introducing new students to downtown Greencastle with Destination Downtown, DePauw changed its strategy this year.

Rather than focusing just on downtown, the university moved the event to Robe-Ann Park for Tuesday evening's re-christened "Destination Greencastle" event.

Far from being a simple downtown event, Destination Greencastle featured businesses from around the city, along with non-profit organizations, churches, Putnam County Hospital and Putnam County Library, to name a few.

"We're trying a new partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, which has invited its merchants to be a part of the event," DePauw Director of Student Life Julia Sutherlin said.

Besides the Chamber vendors, though, Tuesday's event also coincided with the next-to-last Parkfest concert as well as the final Tuesday evening farmers' market.

Saturday Shoes members, from left, Rick Barcus, Jeremy Hayes and Dennis Furr perform at Parkfest Tuesday night. Besides the normal crowd, Tuesday's performance was also first-year DePauw students as part of orientation. The group's country rock set was the second-to-last Parkfest performance of the 2010 season. Banner Graphic/JARED JERNAGAN
"When looking at what else going on in the community, with the changes that Civic League made to extend the Parkfest series and the Robe-Ann farmers' market going on Tuesday night, we thought this might be a good opportunity to try something different,' Sutherlin said.

The event was open to all first-year DePauw students, and featured dinner served by Chief's, Mama Nunz, Sodexo, Putnam Inn, Treasures on the Square and Almost Home. Students also heard from Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray and Greater Greencastle Chamber of Commerce President Laurie Hardwick.

The students then got a taste of the local music scene with the Parkfest performance of Saturday Shoes.

According to Chamber Executive Director Tammy Amor, the Chamber's involvement in the event was an overwhelming success.

"We had over 25 businesses sign up. We had to turn a few away because they didn't have enough space," Amor said. "I was really excited. To be honest, I wasn't sure if I would get that kind of response, but we have."

Another big positive for the Chamber is the park feels less exclusive than downtown. Robe-Ann doesn't favor businesses of a certain type or location. Registered vendors included restaurants, retail stores, insurance agents, service providers and medical offices.

"Nobody feels left out," Amor said.

This inclusiveness is what DePauw officials hoped for.

"We have done it down on the square for the five or six years, so we thought this might be a new opportunity," Sutherlin said. "Some of the businesses that have been involved in the past on the square are here as well, but we have been able to involve businesses that wanted to be a part of the event in the past, but weren't on the square. We've been able to involve and expand it a little bit"

This year's orientation has fit in well with DePauw's overall plan of being more involved in the community. Destination Greencastle is one of three orientation events designed to link students to the community.

"We had a dinner on Sunday evening where everything the students ate was local," Sutherlin said. "That doesn't mean that everything was produced in Greencastle, but it was more local than having things shipped from one side of the country or the other."

At the dinner, Steve Setchell of Sustainable Greencastle spoke to the students about the Chamber's Buy Local initiative. Afterward, Greencastle City Councilor Adam Cohen introduced the Chamber Discount Cards for the Students.

The community involvement will continue Saturday, when DePauw's annual Service Plunge joins forces with the United Way Day of Caring. Community members will be volunteering around town on Friday for Day of Caring, and first-year DePauw students will continue the effort with Saturday's event.

"We've always done our Service Plunge, but we've intentionally involved ourselves with United Way since their Day of Caring is on Friday," Sutherlin said.

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this was the best "destination greencastle" that my business and i has ever been part of. in the past few year only a few handfuls of kids has came by my business, leaving us a lil depressed that so much money and efforts, were wasted. this year we passed out something personally to each and every student at the park. we left that park feeling good and excited. thanks for the change. we loved it!

-- Posted by badboy46120 on Wed, Aug 25, 2010, at 7:26 AM

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