Hundreds of Western Washington University students, alumni, employees and family members will gather in downtown Bellingham on Wednesday, Sept. 21 for the inaugural Paint Bellingham Blue for WWU festival welcoming the city’s newest residents ? new WWU students ? and to celebrate the beginning of the new academic year. Western’s first day of fall classes is Sept. 21.
Depot Market Square will be filled with local vendors, food trucks, games, giveaways and music from KUGS-FM student radio from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. WWU President Sabah Randhawa and WWU Associated Students President Stephanie Cheng will lead a group of about 500 students from Red Square, arriving downtown about 6:00 p.m. in time to watch the iconic sign atop the Herald building become WWU-blue for the first time in history.
“This is an exciting opportunity to introduce our new students to the downtown community and strengthen the important sense of shared community and culture that binds Western and Bellingham,” Randhawa said. “With around 15,000 Western alumni in the Bellingham area and many local collaborations with public and private partners, the connections are powerful, personal, and longstanding. Paint Bellingham Blue is fun way to foster new connections and share our pride in being Bellingham’s university.”
Downtown street trees decorated with blue lights and light poles sporting new WWU banners are also part of the Paint Bellingham Blue for WWU celebration. “We want to create a new annual tradition to welcome and celebrate students in their new home and showcase their new city,” said Chris Roselli, the WWU Alumni Association’s Young Alumni and Student Program director. Several retailers will offer discounts and free items to students, while members of the Student Alumni Association will receive “Viking Bucks” to spend at the event.
“We also want local alumni to join us to show new students the power of the alumni community that is available to them,” Roselli said.
Students will be able to sign their names on a banner that will remain up all year on the side of the Bellingham Herald Building at Western City Center.
The evening will culminate at about 7:15 p.m. when Randhawa and Cheng will officially turn the landmark “HERALD” sign blue. The iconic red neon sign atop the Bellingham Herald Building was recently replaced with a modern LED system that can display any color.
The evening will end with a fireworks display from the roof of the Herald building, but the festival will continue for alumni, Western employees, students’ families and others at Boundary Bay Brewery Beer Garden.
Through October, 200 trees in Bellingham’s downtown core are decorated with blue lights, while about 75 downtown light poles are adorned with WWU banners. And about 100 businesses display signs advertising discounts for Western students and alumni.
The festivities are hosted by Western with major sponsor Peoples Bank, and contributing sponsors: Daylight Properties, Boundary Bay Brewery, Downtown Bellingham Partnership and the City of Bellingham.
Paint Bellingham Blue for WWU is free to attend for members of the Western community, but registration is required. Click here to register and to learn more.