Spring Fling is returning to the UA Mall, where it all began 40 years ago.
For three days, the east end of the UA Mall will be transformed into one of the nation's largest student-run carnivals, complete with amusement park rides, games, funhouses, cotton candy and live entertainment. Between 20,000 and 25,000 people are expected to attend the event, which is returning to campus after a 15-year off-campus run.
In 1974, Spring Fling was established by theAssociated Students of the University of Arizonaas a creative way for student clubs to fundraise.Jared Young, executive director of the 2014 Spring Fling, said the event maintains that purpose to this day. About 50 University clubs and organizations will be fundraising at this year's event.
"That's really one thing that has stayed 100 percent true to the core of Spring Fling – the need and desire to serve the student body," Young said. "These clubs do so many different things, not only for the University and students, but the community as well."
In 2000, construction of the UA's Manuel Pacheco Integrated Learning Center forced Spring Fling to move off campus to Rillito Downs, about four miles north of the UA. Although the move was meant to be temporary, Spring Fling festivities ended up being held at the park for the next 15 years.
"We really aimed for bringing Spring Fling back to campus this year because it is the 40th anniversary," Young said. "It's a lot of tradition and a lot of heritage. We're hoping to get as many alumni back here as possible, and the allure of bringing it back to campus has helped pique people's interest."
Spring Fling opens on Friday, the same day the UA will officially announce the launch of its largest-ever fundraising campaign, which will attempt to raise more than $1 billion. A fireworks show will follow the announcement, and a performance by the band American Authors will kick off Spring Fling weekend.
American Authors recently appeared in an uplifting music video alongside UA Medical Center – Diamond Children's patients, doctors, nurses and staff. The video is set to the band's popular song, "Best Day of My Life," and can be viewed here.
The band will become part of Spring Fling entertainment history, which also includes entertainers like Chuck Berry, Run DMC, Christina Applegate and Pauly Shore.
This year, Spring Fling organizers have partnered with the UA Green Fund to incorporate sustainable features like recyclable utensils, a bike valet outside the entrance and shirts made from recycled bottles for all of the volunteers.
Young said he hopes these special touches, as well as bringing festivities back to campus, will make this year's Spring Fling unforgettable.
"Spring Fling is completely run by students," he said. "This is a chance to see what the UA is capable of. It's a point of pride."
Spring Fling's hours of operation are April 11 from 4-11 p.m., April 12 from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. and April 13 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For a parking map, click here.
Admission is free with a CatCard or military ID and for children under 7 years old. Attendees can receive a $5 discount on wristbands on Friday from 4-11 p.m. by donating four cans of food. All donations collected will benefit the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. Complete information on admission prices and promotions is available here.