Welcome back Slugs! Downtown Santa Cruz businesses invite returning UCSC students back into town
Set for September 24, the event is an opportunity for new and returning students and the community to connect with downtown Santa Cruz, participate in student activities, see performances, and win prizes.
Like downtowns and Main Streets across the United States, the business district of Santa Cruz went suddenly quiet when the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders hit in March 2020.
With UC Santa Cruz set to bring students back to campus for in-person instruction this fall, business and university leaders are welcoming students back to downtown, contributing to the vibrancy, diversity, and entrepreneurialism that has always characterized downtown Santa Cruz.
UC Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Downtown Association, and the City of Santa Cruz Economic Development are helping that effort along by partnering to create a new event meant to cultivate town-gown relations: Downtown Day.
Downtown Day is an opportunity for all students, new and returning, to connect with downtown Santa Cruz and be welcomed to their new home, said Haley Morrow, UC Santa Cruz Government and Community Relations communications specialist. Planners promise an afternoon full of fun student activities, performances, and prizes.
“Downtown Day is an opportunity to support Santa Cruz’s amazing small businesses, and for students to get to know their community and fellow UCSC students in the heart of Santa Cruz,” said Morrow, who is herself a Slug alumna (Stevenson ’20). “Slugs help keep the Santa Cruz economy running, and downtown businesses are happy to see students returning!”
The event will be Friday, September 24, 2021, from 1–4 p.m., on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz.
There will be a scavenger hunt highlighting some popular downtown businesses including Penny Ice Cream, Cruzio, 11th Hour Coffee, and Abbott Square, with prizes including student discounts to downtown businesses, free movie tickets, City of Santa Cruz swag, and UCSC swag. At the end of the afternoon, Santa Cruz Cinema will host a free movie for students (the Jordan Peele horror film Us, which is set in Santa Cruz), starting at 4:15 p.m.
Downtown Santa Cruz business leaders are excited for the return of students and the liveliness they bring.
“We’re thrilled that students are coming back and we’re ready to welcome them to our one-of-a-kind mix of fun, family-owned, high-quality businesses downtown,” said Jorian Wilkins, executive director of the Downtown Association of Santa Cruz.
“From farm-to-table restaurants and cafés, to art galleries and gift shops, to urban plant stores and vintage boutiques, to artisan ice cream and indie movie theaters, downtown Santa Cruz has something for everyone!”
Businesses throughout downtown will display “We Love Slugs” window clings and “Slug Discounts” at participating businesses.
UC Santa Cruz Student Union Assembly President Shivika Sivakumar is looking forward to returning both to campus and to Santa Cruz.
“I always have so much fun downtown, and it’s really easy to get there since METRO buses go straight there from campus,” said Sivakumar. “I love visiting the museum, studying in the cafés, grocery shopping, and hanging out with friends downtown on the weekends. I’m looking forward to getting back in the fall, and I’m so excited to be able to introduce fellow Slugs to downtown with Downtown Day!”
Downtown Day participants can start their festivities at the downtown information kiosk at 1130 Pacific Avenue K2, at the corner of Pacific and Soquel avenues.
The Santa Cruz community is welcome to participate, get UCSC swag and a downtown map at the information kiosk, and watch the student performances.
Downtown Day will be Friday, September 24, 2021, from 1–4 p.m., on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz. At the end of the afternoon, Santa Cruz Cinema will host a free movie for students (the Jordan Peele horror film Us), starting at 4:15 p.m.
For information on Downtown Day, contact Haley Morrow, UC Santa Cruz Government and Community Relations communications specialist, at (707) 290-6795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.