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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    800 show up for Zona Zoo’s Bear Down Friday

    An integral part of the Zona Zoo program’s pledge for new and improved benefits for Arizona student pass-holders kicked off Friday night with the first Bear Down Fridays pep rally.

    About 800 students, adults and children showed up on East University Boulevard to partake in the event, which coincided with the Arizona football team’s home game against Stephen F. Austin the following evening.

    Most of the crowd didn’t arrive until around 5:30 p.m. for the second half of the rally, which featured a short performance by the Arizona marching band and speeches by athletics director Jim Livengood and Zona Zoo spirit director Michael Huston.

    Huston said he was pleased with the overall turnout, but he figured it would improve this week with No. 3 USC coming to town.

    “”I think (Friday night’s event) was great, and it’s only going to get better,”” he said. “”I think that as more people find out about it, more people are going to want to be a part of this.””

    University Boulevard was blocked off between North Park and North Tyndall avenues to accommodate revelers who dashed to and from the makeshift stage erected outside Chipotle.

    Wilbur and Wilma Wildcat joined members of the UA cheerleading squad onstage with master of ceremonies Jody Oehler, a host for ESPN Radio 1450-AM and an Arizona alumnus.

    Oehler, who led a UA trivia game for students, among other duties, said he was amazed how far the organization of student spirit has come since his graduation in 2003.

    “”There’s finally something that Arizona has to get people fired up,”” he said. “”Arizona’s always been supportive of its athletics, but never with something like this. This is taking it to the next level, for sure.””

    With the rise in the base cost of the Zona Zoo student-ticket plan to $60 from $40 last year, Huston had promised that students would receive more bang for their buck through increased benefits, including Friday night’s event.

    Students took advantage of another of those new promotions at a tent set up at the intersection of University Boulevard and Tyndall Avenue, where members of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona sold bus tickets to attend a road trip to Los Angeles for the UCLA football game Oct. 7.

    The trip will provide for 110 people split between two buses, said special events director Cori Malin, and 46 tickets were sold by 6:30 p.m. Friday, 15 minutes before the rally concluded.

    While some students said they were turned off by the lack of peers who showed up for the event, particularly at the start – “”I’m a little disappointed, but it’s OK,”” said undeclared freshman Juliet Feldman – others said the concentration of excitement was exactly what they had hoped for.

    Patrick Lepak, a management information systems junior, said the atmosphere was a good first step toward the fervor he witnessed in Baton Rouge, La., for the UA football game at Louisiana State Sept. 9.

    “”I just think it’s really good because we’re building up support for the (football) program, even though it’s only Stephen F. Austin,”” Lepak said.

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