Annual WestFest celebration makes its return

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Children wait to play on a blow-up ride at WestFest, West Haven, Sept. 18, 2021.

Elisa D’Egidio, Student Life Editor

WestFest 2021 took place on West Haven’s Historic Green on Sept. 18 from 12 to 7 p.m. This year’s event celebrates the city of West Haven’s 100th anniversary and WestFest’s 6th year.

The event was filled with university Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs) including: The Charger Bulletin, WNHU, Victimology Club, American Criminal Justice Association, Men’s Rugby Club, Rotaract Club and College Republicans.

The West Haven Green was filled with families and people of the community gathering, showing support and having a good time. The event had live music, food and lawn games for all in attendance.

Killian Gruber, a senior political science major, is the chair of the University of New Haven Mayor’s Advisory Commission. With this position, he fundraised and found sponsors to help support the WestFest event. He also worked together with the university and the West Haven City Hall to organize this event.

“To me WestFest is important because it is a way for UNH students to interact with the city they live in and [RSOs] are highlighted to West Haven Residents, which is our mission,” Gruber said. “It is also a lot of fun for everyone attending which is great to see! Plus, everyone in the Mayor’s Advisory Commission gains so many connections and so many unique experiences”

Senior legal studies major Jonathan Rodriguez worked at the Dunk Tank station at WestFest. He said, “All things considered, last year a lot of people had a lot of things happen because of COVID. We are rebuilding, it will get better.”

Rodriguez said he hopes, in the future, to see more rides available at the event along with more community involvement from the citizens of West Haven.

The Mayor’s Advisory Commission website said, “WestFest’s purpose is to foster collaboration, awareness, and goodwill between the University of New Haven and West Haven communities.”

In a letter dedicated to Chargers, Westies, and visitors, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi said, “This is a time to look back on the fun and warm weather as well as a time to look forward to the autumn colors, winter holidays and yes, the fall semester.”

Shoshanna Dansinger, forensic science sophomore, tabled for the university Hillel Club. Dansinger said that this was their first time at WestFest. “It was really exciting. I got to walk around a bit and enjoy the sounds and sights.”

Dansinger hopes to see more food trucks and more RSOs representing the university next year.

Gruber said, “I hope that this year’s WestFest can be a light at the end of the tunnel for some. COVID-19 hit our local communities hard and, while we are still dealing with it, I think it is important to have moments where we can come together as safely as possible. I hope for UNH Students and West Haven Residents it can reverse a lot of feelings of isolation due to the pandemic.”

This end-of-summer event was sponsored and supported by the UNH Mayor’s Advisory Commission, University of New Haven, WHEAT, City of West Haven, Casa Bianca Pizza, Sodexo, US Alliance Financial and Security Technologies.

Gruber wanted to thank and acknowledge everyone who had a part in making the festival this year, saying “Especially each of our student directors Samuel Weinmann, Andrew Colford, Christyllis Douglas, Christian Zapata, and Cassie Napoli. As well as our Advisor Dr. Chris Haynes. Without their hard work and dedication, this Festival would not be possible.”

“Without question, the students involved with WestFest are some of our finest,” said President Steven Kaplan in a public statement.