Families gather in the Firestone Fieldhouse parking lot at Madness Village for Waves Weekend on Oct. 8. Madness Village was one of the many events which took place over the weekend for students and families to enjoy. Photo by Ella Coates
Every year, parents and family come from near and far to celebrate one thing: Waves Weekend. The three days consisted of of carnival rides at Madness Village, food, live music and Blue and Orange Madness — a pep rally to kick off the men’s and women’s basketball seasons. This year, Waves Weekend took place Oct. 8-10, with over 1,100 parents and alumni in attendance, Campus Programs Coordinator Danielle Minke said.
The University celebrated the 10th-annual Waves Weekend — a tradition for the Pepperdine community, as well as a weekend many parents mark their calendars for as the first time they will see their students after dropping them off for the fall semester.
“I’m excited; there is a lot of energy,” Minke said. “It’s just so sweet when you get to see parents reunite with their kids.”
Overview of the Weekend
The main events of the weekend were Madness Village, Blue and Orange Madness and an Alumni Gathering with live student performers. Attendees also had the opportunity to meet with administrators and explore both Pepperdine and Malibu.
The University required attendees to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the 72 hours before Blue and Orange Madness, per updated county guidance on mega events. Attendees went to a tent at Firestone or Mullin Town Square on Friday to show their proof, then received a wristband to get them into the event.
“Not everybody has to go to it [Blue and Orange Madness], but if they want to go, they’re more than welcome to,” Minke said.
This was the only event all weekend that required any proof of vaccination or negative test to attend, but Minke said all students had to get a COVID-19 test every week on campus anyway, and the University recommended that parents and alumni get tested before they come to campus too.
“I purposely made sure most all of our events are outside just because I wanted to avoid any exclusion,” Minke said.
Schedule of Events
On Friday night, students and parents gathered at the Firestone Fieldhouse parking lot for Madness Village — consisting of a Ferris wheel, a swing ride, carnival games, free food, a petting zoo and vendors.
Students volunteered at Madness Village to make the night run as smoothly as possible. They helped with set up and cleaning, as well as checking attendees into activities and controlling the lines.
“On a night like tonight, where there’s a lot of people out, I want to make sure it runs smoothly and make sure people are having fun,” first-year student volunteer Michael Passwick said during the event. “I have fun doing that kind of stuff.”
Students also volunteered at the student activity vendor tents: Pepperdine Chemistry Club provided nitrogen ice cream, fraternity and sororities promoted their brotherhood and sisterhoods, Alumni Association handed out coffees, the Student Programming Board gave away Waves Weekend t-shirts and more.
After Madness Village, attendees walked into Firestone Fieldhouse for Blue and Orange Madness. The pep rally had a dunk contest, a half-court competition where two attendees unsuccessfully attempted to win a semester of free tuition and an attempt at a score by President Jim Gash. The Pepperdine Step Team also performed, with the Cheer Squad and Pepperdine Riptide on the sidelines getting attendees excited about their school.
On Saturday, attendees went to an event titled Coffee with Connie — for a chance to get to know Vice President for Student Affairs Connie Horton — as well as attend surfing lessons, a family picnic and a Pepperdine Improv Troupe comedy performance.
The University encouraged families to go out to dinner in the Malibu community on Saturday night, offering a 10% discount at restaurants like Howdy’s, Malibu Seafood, Duke’s, Real Coconut, Marmalade Cafe and Taverna Tony. To redeem the discounts, attendees had to wear their Waves Weekend name tags.
To close Saturday night, attendees could attend the Alumni and Friends of University Registar Hung and his wife Corinne Le’s gathering on Baxter Drive Park, or The Table at the Brock House.
The alumni gathering consisted of student worship performers, food and fellowship. The Table was similar, with food, worship by the Well Collective and a message by Eric Wilson, University Church of Christ preaching minister.
The two events on Saturday didn’t necessarily replace the annual Waves Weekend concert, Minke said, but instead were opportunities for parents to attend more family-focused events. Minke said the concert could return next year.
Waves Weekend wrapped up Sunday morning with a church service hosted by UCC at the amphitheater for parents, students and alumni to attend.
Reuniting with the Students
While parents said they enjoyed all the events, they were mostly excited to see their students. Maya Ramirez came to Pepperdine alongside her husband Rayon and her mother in-law Sylvia from Carlsbad, Calif., to see sophomore Joshua Drake, who spent his first year of college at home in Carlsbad.
“I’m excited he is finally here,” Maya Ramirez said. “Last year was online, and he was a freshman but never entered the campus — so we are thrilled to be at his college.”
Parents also said they took this opportunity to assess how their students were doing at Pepperdine and if it was the right school for them.
“I can already tell that he’s at a place that acknowledges him and shows him who he is as a person and enables him to grow even more,” Maya Ramirez said. “I already feel that here.”
Jennifer Thomas came alongside her in-laws from Williamsburg, Va., to visit her first-year student, Taylor Thomas, for the weekend. This was the first time they had seen each other since August and they were excited to be back together.
“I think with being so far away and COVID-19 and all the changes, it’s been interesting, but I think she’s really having a good time,” Thomas said. “She’s been with a lot of different people, she’s learning a lot and I feel very safe with her here.”
Thomas said this was her in-laws’ first time to California, so they were excited to explore the area while participating in the events on campus to see what the University is like.
“I want to get a good sense of the community,” Thomas said. “She’s been here, and we really haven’t because we’re so far away, so we’re just learning more about the school, about the opportunities here and really the area.”
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