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The 10th anniversary of the BJU Gold Rush Daze created a storm between Red Lightning and Green Thunder in a daylong battle packed with memorable competitions, programs and activities for the university family.
Students as well as faculty and staff worked hard to prepare for the day, decorating the residence halls and other buildings on campus. Nearly every building displayed a green or red banner; even the street lamps glowed with red and green light. All of this preparation helped to build excitement and generate team spirit.
On the morning of Gold Rush Daze, students were greeted in their residence halls by faculty and staff who delivered Krispy Kreme doughnuts, fruit cups and juice for breakfast.
Later, the team competitions began with green and red parades. While the majority of students packed the stands of Alumni Stadium to watch the spirited processions, many students participated in the parades by wearing costumes and driving decorated vehicles.
Green team members showed a lot of spirit and creativity in their parade entries.
Junior political science major Ben Smith expressed his excitement about his team’s parade. “The green team seems to be very united,” he said.
Green’s parade featured Dr. Stephen Jones at the head of the parade as well as a number of luxury cars.
Junior humanities major Cody Lehman’s favorite part of Green Thunder’s parade was the Lotus Elise and the Mercedes Benz.
Other green parade participants included a pageant float with “Miss Thunder,” the Greenville Drive’s mascot “Reedy” and the Suber Road Baptist Church bus.
Graduate assistant Tim Petersen gained much attention from the cheering crowd by breathing fire. Petersen said he used his talent for the last Gold Rush Daze as well.
Next, it was Red Lightning’s turn to show off some spirit. The team’s parade featured a number of red cars with cheering student riders, fire trucks and the Chick-fil-A cow.
“We have horses, we have Santa Claus and we have the Incredibles,” sophomore communication disorders major Sarah Twigg said. Twigg was part of a group that pushed Target shopping carts and threw items from the carts into the crowd.
Other participants included students who performed acrobatic stunts, a red dump truck and retiree Corban Tabler dressed as Carl Fredricksen, the old man from Disney Pixar’s Up.
Sophomore early childcare and development major Meghan Gold drove her car in the parade. “[The best part was] seeing green’s faces when we came out with all our red spirit,” she said.
At the end of the parade, Mr. Marshall Franklin, executive vice president and chief operations officer, was lifted to new heights in an American Tree & Land Co. cherry picker. The Red Lightning team roared as the lift rose higher and higher.
After a time of cheering from both teams, Red Lightning was announced as the winner of the parade.
Margaret Mack residence hall counselor Katie Betancourt said the parade exceeded her expectations. “I was in charge of the parade [alongside Katie Adams and Rachel Dahlhausen], so winning it was a rewarding experience,” she said.
Dr. Dan Olinger, chair of the Division of Bible, and Mr. Paul Radford, faculty member in the School of Fine Arts and Communication, served as the announcers for the afternoon with entertaining commentary during the athletic events.
“[My favorite part is] hearing the students. There’s so much spirit. They’re working so hard, they’re having such a good time,” Olinger said.
The games began with “Ambush at See Saw Hill,” a game that let women students throw pies at Dr. Eric Newton, dean of students, and Mr. Jon Daulton, dean of men.
“[I’m excited about] doing something I could never do again,” said Rachel Beck, a senior nursing major and Green Thunder team participant.
And that was the case for most students, as they participated in unique, outlandish games: relay races that involved skateboards, roller blades and wheel barrows; giant obstacle courses and tug-of-war games; and races to create life-size letters or symbols.
The fans cheered on their teams during every game, and pep bands boosted the spirits in the stands. There were impromptu cheer-offs and pep band playoffs, and Red Lightning won both.
“It isn’t even close!” Olinger said in regard to Red’s cheering.
Once the games concluded, the winner of the intense competition was announced.
The competition was close, especially since Green won the decorating competition and many athletic events.
But Red Lightning won Gold Rush Daze 2013 by a mere 50 points. The team stormed the field and ran a victory lap in celebration.
The next event, faculty body, provided some comic relief for the university family.
“The faculty loves doing it, the students love seeing it,” Olinger said. “A lot of creativity goes into it. It’s always well directed. And it’s just a hoot.”
Dr. Darren Lawson, dean of the School of Fine Arts and Communication, wrote and directed the program and even starred as the villain “Gru” alongside Mr. Dave Schwingle, faculty member in the School of Fine Arts and Communication, who co-starred as “Vector.”
Highlights of the show included parodies of artist series performances, “The Basketball Lesson” with Olinger and Dr. Jason Ormiston, faculty and staff riding bikes through the crowd and an iPod and iPad band performance.
Dr. Stephen Jones appeared as Brody the Bruin in the finale of the show.
The evening of Gold Rush Daze 2013 concluded with a singspiration and a short challenge from Franklin. A fireworks show that awed the audience topped off the eventful day.