Marching together to Main and to friends

Artile Photo

08/29/18
By Diane Gasper-O’Brien
University Relations and Marketing

HAYS, Kan. – It has always been a march of sorts, so the name was changed last year from “Core2Campus” to “March2Main.”

No matter what the name, the results are the same.

In what has become a popular tradition, a large crowd of students, faculty, staff and administrators followed the Fort Hays State University Marching Band and cheerleaders the several blocks from campus to the Downtown Pavilion in Union Pacific Park Monday.

March2Main was started back in 2013 – and named Core2Campus to represent a partnership between the core community of Hays and the FHSU campus – as a way to introduce Fort Hays State students, especially new freshmen, to downtown Hays.

Now, students from all three post-secondary education schools in Hays participate.

The first 500 students are given free meals, and students could visit up to 32 different businesses to get a sticker for a bingo card. A blackout bingo earned students the chance to win thousands of dollars of prizes ranging from iPads, Fitbit watches and televisions to gift baskets and gift cards from numerous businesses.

Joining Downtown Hays Development Corp. and Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau and the three participating schools as major sponsors of the event were Body + Soul and Med Spa, 107 W. 15th; Brief Space, 201 W. 10th; and Taco Shop, 333 W. Eighth.

Students were given clues to find four different bricks worth cash prizes that were hidden in the downtown area – all underneath an American flag.

FHSU student Russell Krug, Hays senior, was the big winner, locating the gold brick worth $200 at the U.S. Post Office at the corner of Fort and Eighth streets.

Two other Fort Hays State seniors, Kenton Lindsey and Andrew Jones, were participating in their second March2Main. They said they were so impressed with the event last year when they joined fraternity members from Sigma Alpha Epsilon that they were back again this year.

Lindsey and Jones sat eating on a curb in front of the Furniture Look at 1000 Main, enjoying a pleasant late-summer evening as they talked about their March2Main experience.

“We’re big fans of the Paisley Pear,” said Lindsey, a math major from Goddard. “I actually like all the little boutique stores here on Main Street.”

The Paisley Pear is a wine bar, bistro and market that also serves non-alcoholic beverages. So students of all ages can gather there.

“We have a back room where some students come to do homework and just relax and hang out,” said Shaun Musil, Paisley Pear owner.

His wife, Heather Musil, who helps run the family business, is an FHSU graduate and also is an instructor in the Department of Teacher Education at her alma mater.

“We love the college kids and welcome them to downtown anytime,” Shaun Musil said.

The word “welcome” comes up a lot among the FHSU community when talking about the connections between the university and the Hays community. Partnerships are numerous.

The Downtown Pavilion, where the march ended, was planned, designed and built during the 2017-18 school year by FHSU students in classes in the Department of Applied Technology.

Sara Bloom, executive director of Downtown Hays Development Corp., kicked off the night, giving instructions to the students about how to win prizes. She then handed the microphone to FHSU President Tisa Mason, who talked about how the campus community has spent the last two weeks welcoming students to Fort Hays State University.

“Now we want to welcome you to our community,” said Mason, who led a chant, “I love Hays, yes I do; I love Hays, how about you?”

One FHSU freshman who will be leading chants for Tiger athletics this year was enjoying a non-athletic event Monday. Anna Morgan from Wichita might dispute with Lindsey and Jones which was the most popular place on Main Street, on this particular night anyway.

Boxes of Girl Scout cookies sat on the bed of a pickup truck on Main Street as Lisa Cech handed out free cookies to students, and Morgan was checking out the different flavors for herself as well as some friends across the street.

Cech, manager of product sales for Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland, said she learned about March2Main at the last minute last year and asked if she could hand out free cookies. It went over so well she returned this year.

“We think this is a way for us to get ourselves out there,” Cech said. “It’s good for our scouts to get out in their community.”

Morgan said she is looking forward to getting downtown more often. She had never been to Hays before her campus visit as a senior in high school.

“I just felt so comfortable here when I visited. I loved the campus,” Morgan said. “I thought, ‘This could be my home.’ I tried out for the cheer team and made it, and here I am.”

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