“HEATWAVE” continues stream of high-turnout neighborhood events

May 16, 2023, 11:02 p.m.

Following several well-attended neighborhoods’ all-campus events, like Ginkgo’s Crochella and Sequoia’s SunSet Fest, Aspen’s all-campus darty (daytime party) “HEATWAVE” continued the string of high-turnout neighborhood events.

Despite the cloudy weather, a delayed start and complications with performers and attraction vendors, the now ironically-named event still drew a crowd of hundreds to the Sigma Nu house and Lower Row on May 6, painting a stark contrast to the sparsely-attended neighborhood events of quarters past.

“As a council, we really want “HEATWAVE” to be our year-over-year big thing,” said Aspen Neighborhood Council member and event organizer Marshall Kools ’24. “Hopefully, it’ll be hot next year.”

Aspen — formally known as Neighborhood A — spent around $92,000, Kools said, to throw its neighborhood event on May 6. The darty functioned as Aspen’s all-campus event for the year as well as its naming festival, bringing the event’s total budget to about $110,000, according to Kools.

“I think people underestimate just how quickly that $100,000 goes away,” Kools said. “For the music for this event, just that stage and everything, we’re looking at $32,000, $35,000. The food trucks were another $30,000, $32,000.”

Kools attributes the event’s high turnout to the fact that “HEATWAVE” was student-led and organized. Though they did have the guidance of Aspen Program Director Andrew Gray, Kools said that he, artistic coordinator Demi Weitz ’25, lead concert coordinator Nich Mullins ’24 and lead technical coordinator William Alexander ’25 had been planning the event for months.

“I wanted it to have a little bit of Woodstock ‘99, where it kind of felt like, ‘that was a crazy party,’” Kools said.

“HEATWAVE”  — as Aspen’s naming festival — also featured some of the first merchandise to reflect the neighborhoods’ new names: pale yellow T-shirts featuring a small, black ‘A’ and the word ‘Aspen’ underneath it. Kools bought 1,000 of these T-shirts and provided painting supplies so students could customize their apparel. Only 32 shirts were left at the end of the day.

Several students added their or friends’ hand-prints to their shirts. Others drew smiley faces or flowers. One student wrote his phone number.

Three students paint on shirts on a shared long table.
Students decorated shirts labeled ‘Aspen,’ the new name for Neighborhood A, at ‘HEATWAVE.’ (Photo: ANANYA UDAYGIRI/The Stanford Daily)

When picking up their shirts at the event, many students asked Kools what “Aspen” was. After finding out, one student responded that, “Neighborhood Aspen is popping off.”

Several students echoed the sentiment.

“I definitely think so,” said event attendee Rita Shuster ’26 when asked if “HEATWAVE” was worth the money. “I think that it was bringing fun back to campus.”

Other students disagreed. One post on Fizz read: “Heatwave is kinda dead ngl.” The post net 71 upvotes.

Kools admitted he made mistakes with planning this year, but hopes that the event – and others like it – will continue to grow.

“There’s two ways to look at the event afterwards. It can be like, ‘Oh, what a stupid waste of money, I can’t believe the neighborhood gave SNU all this money and then they burned it and had a crazy event,’” Kools said. “Or they could be, ‘oh, this is really cool. I’m in a neighborhood, I can host this as well.’”

Students decorate shirts at the base of a tree while others gather in front of the Sigma Nu house behind the tree.
Students painted shirts and listened to music at ‘HEATWAVE,’ hosted at the Sigma Nu house and Lower Row. (Photo: ANANYA UDAYGIRI/The Stanford Daily)

Kools, who is technically a resident of Hyperion (Neighborhood T), said he was eligible to serve in Aspen’s neighborhood council courtesy of his position as an RA at Sigma Nu, where the darty was hosted. He said that he hopes to continue his work on the council through next year, and grow “HEATWAVE” into the “Aspen Sound Summit,” a series of concerts held in different locations that would culminate with “HEATWAVE” on the final day.

“The councils have learned from their experiences this year,” said Senior Director of Communications for Student Affairs Pat Lopes Harris in an email to The Daily. “We’re excited to see them build on the momentum and continue to produce impactful events by and for students in each neighborhood.”

With Hyperion’s Drag Fest happening later this week, the fledgling neighborhood system might yet see another event this quarter attract a crowd and improve event turnout.

“Next year, these incoming freshmen can walk into a castle already built and start furnishing it,” Kools said. “Instead of having to walk in and start building it brick by brick and having it be incomplete around them.”

Ananya Udaygiri is the Vol. 265 Video Managing Editor. A sophomore from Houston, TX, she sometimes writes for News -- and on bad days, for Humor.

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