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California’s Top College Parties

It seems every college has quarterly undie runs and finals week screams, but what traditions make each campus in California stand out? Well, trust me, there are many. UCLA is always throwing parties and events around campus, but in case you are looking to take in some other campus’ traditions, here is a list of new school-year resolutions just for you. These are events that are not exclusive only to the specific college’s students, but for students up and down the coast. Most with growing numbers and popularity, it’s worth making it a mission to attend each of these events before they become exclusive or extinct in the coming years. In no specific order, these infamous college parties have incredible standing reputations.
Starting with a consistently awarded “Top 10” party school by Playboy and Princeton Review, UC Santa Barbara has a national reputation of its own. Probably the closest and largest party school near UCLA, their events are worthwhile and accessible experiences. Of course everyone knows of Halloween in Isla Vista. Spanning the entire weekend and days before, you will need at least 3 costumes to attend this holiday. Their oceanfront street, Del Playa, will be packed with anywhere from 20,000-40,000 students and visitors. Most houses host parties but it’s best if you visit knowing someone in town, otherwise you will have nowhere to hide when the police, on horseback, try to place you into one of the drunk –tanks. Nonetheless, Halloween in Isla Vista is a must-have college experience. Even as police forces get stricter each year, the party just keeps getting bigger.
UCSB is also the original host of Floatopia, an event usually held the first weekend of April each year. For this event, students take over Isla Vista’s beach as they head out into the water and connect together hundreds of inflatable rafts or lounges. Then “Del-Playa-topia” takes over the nighttime with a continued celebration in the streets. However in past years this event has conjured up large amounts of garbage and trouble. I think its safe to say the last official and original Floatopia was held in 2009. Since then there has been some strict interference from authorities, resulting in beach blockages. Still, Del-Playa-topia rages on each year with the memory and renewed energy.
Following in the steps of UCSB, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo hosts their own Slotopia. With the same premise as Floatopia, Cal Poly and Cuesta students head into the water and crowd the beaches for a good time. Without yet having the same reputation as UCSB, this event still manages to go off with minimal interruptions. But this isn’t Cal Poly’s only event. SLO is also famous for their Mardi Gras celebration on February 5th
3. USC
Our rival campus, University of Southern California, hosts their Fountain Run near the end of the school year. Starting at the “Finger Fountain,” seniors and a few additional undergrads will make their way to each of USC’s fountains for a quick splash. They even sell t-shirts and tank tops for this tradition.
UC Davis is famous for their Picnic Day. 2012 will be the 98th annual Picnic Day, an event that serves as Davis’s official open house. Students enjoy entertainment, demonstrations, shows, and even a parade on the school’s campus. Students from all over head to Davis on this weekend, hoping to roam the college with friends and enjoy the unrestricting atmosphere. There are even box derby and cockroach races! However most students choose to lounge around on the grass, enjoy the food, and dance to the ever-present music. UC Davis does encourage attendees to conduct themselves responsibly in the presence of potential new students, but hey, what’s a better way to sway a considering freshman than showing them what Davis is all about?

Bay Area schools have a lot to brag about. Does Bay to Breakers or Hippie Hill ring a bell? But perhaps one of the most unique college traditions actually takes place at Stanford. The school’s infamous kissing tradition, Full Moon on the Quad, is a midnight event that dates back to 1800’s when senior boys and girls would form two lines and share kisses with the freshman across from them. The event now is a little less structured to say the least. Nonetheless, it has grown over the years to include bands, performances, food, and especially mints, alongside these make-out sessions, promoting a night of initiation and chaos. Stanford has recently, however, had to step up with some safety and health regulations, actually canceling the event once due to the Swine Flu outbreak! Even though this doesn’t stop many participants, some do opt to kiss the Stanford Tree for good luck instead. There is also a no camera policy out of mutual respect for all participants. Stanford is keepin’ it classy, I guess.
Each year on Labor Day, students from Chico come together for their annual River Float. Over 15,000 students make their way down the Sacramento River and end at “Beer Can Beach” for a continued celebration. And although this event is reminiscent of Floatopia, Chico students claim the actual movement down the river is what sets their event apart. Like Floatopia, however, cops have began to crack down on the immense crowds that flock towards Chico during Labor Day, even though their forces haven’t appeared to create much of a scare. Chico’s River Float is a fun and relaxing occasion, perfect for casual drinking with friends while atop an inflatable pirate’s ship.
UC San Diego hosts the SunGod Festival each spring. Reminiscent of our own JazzReggae, this highly popular outdoor music festival is open to the public but only free for UCSD students. Imitative also of Coachella, the festival features three stages of music and numerous art, activity, and vendor stations. With the southern sunshine and plenty of dance partners, SunGod has undoubtedly become a college tradition among many. 2010 hosted some big names including Wiz Khalifa, Jimmy Eat World, Mike Posner, Crystal Castles, JFK of MSTRKRFT, and Best Coast. Considering the concert series sold out this year, I would recommend reserving a UCSD student that you can count on picking up tickets for you next year.

Now I know this isn’t technically in California, but this list just wouldn’t seem complete without mentioning The University of Colorado, Boulder. Being a close neighboring state, Colorado hosts one of the largest 4/20 celebrations of any campus. Gathering in Norlin Quad, over 10,000 students light up together for the “holiday.” Local stores and restaurants even cater to the event with themed souvenirs and foods. Of course this event is unsanctioned, so I guess I should warn all of you of its illegal nature. Nonetheless, Boulder is also a top ranked party school so even if your visit doesn’t fall on 4/20, I guarantee a good time. 

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