Downtown Day to welcome UCSC students back to downtown

The celebration, scheduled for Sept. 24, is a chance for new and returning students and the community to connect with downtown Santa Cruz

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Downtown Day will let Slugs discover or rediscover local businesses, get to know the streets of downtown, and watch performances by student clubs including Sabrosura Latin Dance Troupe and Cloud 9 A Capella.

UC Santa Cruz and the Downtown Association are partnering to help students feel connected and welcome as they return to campus and downtown Santa Cruz after a period of distance learning. 

The result of that partnership is the first-ever Downtown Day, set for 1–4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24, on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz. 

Expect a fast-paced afternoon full of activities to welcome students to their new home, including a scavenger hunt and performances by student groups. 

Slugs can discover or rediscover local businesses, get to know the streets of downtown, and watch performances by student clubs including Sabrosura Latin Dance Troupe and Cloud 9 A Capella.

At the end of the afternoon, Santa Cruz Cinema will host a free movie for students—Jordan Peele’s hit horror movie Us. Several important scenes of that movie were shot on location in Santa Cruz, with some highly recognizable landmarks including the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Like downtowns and Main Streets across the United States, the business district of Santa Cruz went suddenly quiet when the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders hit in March 2020. But downtown has reawakened since then, with a bustling street scene that UC Santa Cruz students will soon rejoin. 

UC Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Downtown Association, and the City of Santa Cruz Economic Development have teamed up to present this event.  

“Since UC Santa Cruz swung open its doors more than a half-century ago, our students have contributed to the art, culture, and commerce of downtown Santa Cruz,” said UCSC Chancellor Cynthia Larive. “In addition, many downtown businesses are owned by UCSC alumni, and stores like Bookshop Santa Cruz have contributed to the intellectual life of the campus for decades.”

The scavenger hunt will highlight several popular downtown businesses including The Penny Ice Creamery, Cruzio, 11th Hour Coffee, and Abbott Square, with prizes including student discounts, free movie tickets, City of Santa Cruz swag, and UCSC memorabilia.

Businesses throughout downtown will display "We Love Slugs" window clings and "Slug Discounts" at participating businesses. 

UC Santa Cruz Student Union Assembly President Shivika Sivakumar is looking forward to returning both to campus and to Santa Cruz. 

"I always have so much fun downtown, and it's really easy to get there since METRO buses go straight there from campus," said Sivakumar. "I love visiting the Museum of Art and History,  studying in the cafés, grocery shopping, and hanging out with friends downtown on the weekends. I'm looking forward to getting back in the fall, and I'm so excited to be able to introduce fellow Slugs to downtown with Downtown Day.”

Downtown Day participants can start their festivities at the downtown information kiosk at 1130 Pacific Avenue K2, at the corner of Pacific and Soquel avenues. 

Downtown Day will run 1–4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz. At the end of the afternoon, Santa Cruz Cinema will host a free movie for students (the Jordan Peele horror film Us), starting at 4:15 p.m. 

For information on Downtown Day, contact Haley Morrow, UC Santa Cruz Government and Community Relations communications specialist, at (707) 290-6795 or hemorrow@ucsc.edu.