I noticed the first sign when I peered out my bedroom window and spotted a rainbow bounce house already shaking and swaying two backyards over. The second sign arrived as my roommate thrust a freshly opened beer into my hand. Next came the beats thumping from nearby speakers, the squeals and yips floating through my open windows as someone started their inaugural game of flip cup and a text from a friend asking what time we would start putting glitter on our faces.
“Happy senior year Mayfest,” my roommate grinned wickedly.
I remember hearing the Mayfest mythology back in the beginning of my freshman year and being both incredulous and amazed. "You mean you drink all day? Outside? Right on Euclid?"
That year, I remember sipping margaritas in the warmth of my dorm’s courtyard and then wandering down Euclid Ave., stunned that the “cool upperclassmen” didn’t mind a bunch of freshmen hopping into their yards to partake in the 30-second keg stands and rooftop beer funneling.
This year, I'm a senior with a porch of my own to lounge on and a table exactly the right size for slap cup. I felt the Mayfest love strongly. The sun had finally stopped hiding behind the clouds and the streets buzzed with joy.
Unlike my freshman year, Euclid wasn’t the only meeting spot for Mayfest fun. In Walnut Park, I feasted on chicken tornadoes and corn dogs and sucked down my free beer with relish. I hugged my friends and boozily reconnected with those I hadn’t seen for several semesters. Decked out in our neon-colored summer clothes, we turned the park into an electric collage of beautiful, Syracuse chaos.
After Walnut, my friends and I applied Ke$sha-inspired face paint to each other and anyone interested who happened to walk past our makeshift outdoor art studio. Sparkles flew. And stuck. And permanently ingrained themselves into our bodies, hair and porch. By the time the sun started to set, every face shimmered with glitter and excitement.
I’m of the opinion that my final Mayfest brought the best Block Party show yet. Trey Songz might have tried a little too hard to seduce me and every other girl in the audience, but Ke$ha brought every ounce of intense, poppy effervescence I had hoped for. Watching as athletic men in underwear and tiger masks writhed alongside Ke$ha, I had one of those moments of radical amazement where I looked around me—at the bizarro scene on stage, my glitter-washed friends, the jagged pulse of colored lights painting the crowd—and felt so, so happy.
And that’s what Mayfest is all about. As exams and summer vacation creep closer, Mayfest gives students a final chance to enjoy their friends, appreciate the wilder side college, and feel completely free. Next year, as an alumna, when the last week of April rolls around, I probably won’t be in a situation where I can spend an entire day soaking up the sun (and soaking up beer). But I’ll definitely take the opportunity to remember those amazing days, my awesome friends, and how much I love ‘Cuse.
Ke$ha came and went, but the glitter may never leave my scalp. And the glorious Mayfest memories will stick around even longer.