Campus sees Hays' core
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
The idea was to get university students more familiar with downtown Hays, and by all indications, it was a big success.
Several hundred Fort Hays State University students marched Thursday afternoon from campus to Union Pacific Railroad Park at 10th and Main for the inaugural Core2Campus event coordinated by FHSU and the city of Hays.
All students received a free meal and a gold T-shirt -- and lots of other goodies at various booths set up along Main Street.
A team of FHSU students won the top prizes given away in a scavenger hunt, while two other students were big individual winners.
Houston Hilton, a freshman from Goddard, won a round-trip airline ticket from Hays to Denver, and Garden City senior Rocio Ramos had the winning ticket in a $500 giveaway from event sponsors.
"I am going to see my family in Colorado this weekend, so this will come in handy," Ramos said while clutching the five $100 bills.
Students were introduced to the various activities available to them in downtown Hays, including shopping.
Three Tiger volleyball players were enjoying themselves as they browsed Salon Ten O Seven.
"Ooh, I'd like this for my wedding," said Makenzie Weinman, a senior from Phillipsburg as she looked at some jewelry while checking out the boutique with her roommates, seniors Jenna Ulrich, Lucas, and Madison Schwartz, Lincoln, Neb.
"I don't even have a boyfriend," Weinman said with a laugh when asked if there was a wedding on the horizon. "I just focus on volleyball.
"But I'm a hopeless romantic."
Weinman and Ulrich were familiar with Hays growing up, but Schwartz said she was looking for a smaller setting than metro Lincoln when she found Hays -- and FHSU.
"I love it here (in Hays), and we love it downtown," Schwartz said as her roommates nodded their heads in approval.
Schwartz said she likes to eat at Gella's Diner and Lb. Brewing Co. and "come downtown to get my hair done," and Weinman works at the Golden Q, a popular bar and grill.
It was near the Golden Q that city officials met the campus group to welcome them to downtown Hays.
Two members of the winning scavenger hunt team, made up of resident advisers at various dorms on campus, also said they already are familiar with downtown Hays.
"We come to the art walks, so we know downtown ... really like it," Amber Frazier of Falcon, Colo., said of herself and Johnny Hill, also from Falcon.
On Thursday, they decided to bring other RAs with them, and their Ragin' RAinacorns team was easy to spot among the crowd, wearing Tiger-striped headbands.
"We wanted to be 'spirit-y' for this," Frazier said. "So when I went to buy bandanas and couldn't find what we wanted. I just bought a yard of this (Tiger) material."
Even alumni got into the action Thursday.
Hays residents Armando Orozco and Marisa Johnson, who have five FHSU degrees between them, were wearing "Bleed Black and Gold" T-shirts.
"We live here, and we're alumni, so why not?" Orozco said of participating in FHSU events.
"We're season ticket holders," Johnson said of Tiger athletics, adding their particular black-and-gold shirts can be used for something other than FHSU activities. "My nephew goes to Wichita State, so I can use (the shirt) for that, too."
When it was all said and done, event coordinator Leah Shriwise of Downtown Hays Development Corp. said the event was a success.
"The first time, you don't know what to expect," said Shriwise, an FHSU senior from Jetmore who helped plan the event along with Beccca Kohl, an FHSU junior from Hays, and DHDC director Traci Stanford and Jana Jordan, director of Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"We were really pleased to see so many students take part," Shriwise added.