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Thousands from community come to campus for key 75th Anniversary event

September 25, 2001

An estimated 3,000 to 4,500 people made their way to the Austin Peay campus Saturday, Sept. 22 for Community Appreciation Day, part of the University's 75th Anniversary celebration.

Although fewer than 50 people arrived in time for the 9 a.m. kickoff of the event, by 11 a.m. long lines were forming at the Airborne parachute ride, the climbing wall, the rockwall slide and the ball bounce game. Staff members handing out giveaways-balloons, buttons and candy-also were steadily busy right to the event's end.

"We gave away almost a thousand 'Reaching New Heights' buttons," said Debbie Denton, marketing manager and one of the coordinators for the event. "And not every child picked up a button, so we know there were more than a thousand children.

"Most of them came with two adults, so we estimate there were at least 3,000 people here over the course of the day. We were thrilled with the turnout."

Coordinators for the event, which also included Roy Gregory, Brenda Harrison, Rip Watts, Renee Dunn, Melanie Gardner and Ben Pratt, gathered at 7 a.m. to position tables, chairs and signs and handle last-minute details. Other volunteers joined the effort later, giving coordinators much-needed support and relief. ROTC cadets, called to duty by Maj. Greg Lane, manned several inflatable games and performed other tasks as needed.

The "Outrageous Science Show," which was provided for Austin Peay free of charge by the Dupont Company, was held in the science complex, along with the "Not So Sneaky Snake Show," an educational presentation offered by APSU staff member Sherry Koontz Howell.

A national children's musical group called "Flumpa and Friends," had children-and even a few senior staff members (like Vice President of Academic Affairs Houston Davis)-dancing on stage.

"Everybody loved Flumpa," Denton says. "After each show the kids wanted to hug him and have their picture taken with him."

The event was so enjoyable several parents asked if it might become an annual event. "Oh, I don't know," Denton told them. "It was great, but it was a lot of work for everyone on the community committee. Maybe we'll just do it every 25 years!"