This week, Monday, Jan. 29 to Saturday, Feb. 3., marks the 62nd celebration of Groundhog Day at the University of Dallas.
The members of the Campus Activities Board, particularly Moey Brown, director of student activities, and Eleanor Jenkins, CAB traditions intern and senior English major, are in charge of planning Groundhog Week and continuing this oddball UD tradition.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Jenkins. “We’re keeping the drinks, we’re keeping the all-American food, we’re doing good music, firepits — hopefully it won’t be too muddy.”
Groundhog Week culminates in the Groundhog Party in the Park on Saturday, Feb. 3, a celebration rivaled only by Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the home of Punxsutawney Phil, the titular Groundhog. The party will rage against the dying of the night from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. No entry is permitted after 10:30 p.m., and all party-goers must wear this year’s Groundhog sweatshirt.
The “Groundhog Day” Wikipedia page claims that “[the] University of Dallas in Irving, Texas has boasted of hosting the second largest Groundhog celebration in the world,” but many UD alumni would argue that it’s not boasting if it’s true.
The band lineup for the Party in the Park includes the winner of the Battle of the Bands on Monday, Nov. 4, the student band Groundhog Shoes, who will play for the first 45 minutes of the celebration. The band is composed of James and Luke Ryan, Abby Medico, Lauren Hill, Rachel Thomas and Genesis Guttierez.
Also making an appearance on stage at Groundhog is the Celtic rock band Scythian, who has played at Groundhog in years past.
However, as with any party featuring almost 2000 people, a mosh pit and free alcohol for all 21+ attendees, safety concerns do arise and must be addressed.
“UDPD and the Office of Student Affairs wish all of our students and alumni an enjoyable Groundhog weekend. Your Police Department is partnering with both the City of Irving Fire and Police Departments to ensure everyone’s safety,” said Russell Greene, chief of UDPD. “UDPD will have extra patrols on campus along with IPD’s patrols on North- gate and the apartments across the street. [Irving Fire Department] paramedics will be at the Groundhog event in case of emergencies.”
For the 2023 Groundhog Party in the Park, an outside security company called Texas Tactical Security, LLC was hired to assist UDPD during the event. The company offers services to events such as weddings and festivals and its officers are trained and certified to handle crowd control, perform CPR and deescalate tense situations.
During the 2023 Party in the Park, the security company worked at the event but was not present on campus. According to Chief Greene, the same company will work inside Groundhog Park for Saturday’s Groundhog celebration.
For Party in the Park, wearing one’s Groundhog sweatshirt functions as a ticket. Normally during online pre-sales for Groundhog tickets, around 200 undergraduate sweatshirts are sold, and the remaining 800 undergraduate sweatshirts are sold during the week of Groundhog. However, this year over 600 undergraduate sweatshirts were sold during the pre-sale, a 300% increase.
However, CAB is not worried that they will run out of Groundhog bling.
“The likelihood that we’ll be out of sweatshirts is slim to none,” said Jenkins. “Normally we have a handful of small [sweatshirts] left and a handful of 2XL left.”
Office of Advancement handles the alumni Groundhog tickets, which did not see this striking uptick in sales.
“Online sales are up slightly for alumni tickets, but they are still comparable to prior years,” said Mike Pitstick, director of alumni relations and annual giving.
Groundhog ticket sales and sweatshirt pickup will be from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. all week in upstairs Haggar.
To get the scoop on the Groundhog sweatshirt, check out the “Groundhog Roundup: All About This Year’s Sweatshirt Design” article in the Arts & Culture section on page 3.