2nd Annual 'Paint B'Ham Blue for WWU' celebration to welcome back students Sept. 27

The 2nd Annual Paint B’ham Blue for WWU celebration welcoming new and returning Western Washington University students to Bellingham on Sept. 27 will feature more than 180 trees throughout downtown illuminated with blue lights beginning in September.

The lights are a $43,000 gift from the WWU Alumni Association to the Bellingham community, and will turn from Western blue to white when Mayor Kelli Linville lights the holiday tree in the Depot Market Square in December.

When the WWU Alumni Association learned that the downtown didn’t have resources to light the trees, it was decided to “step-up and make the initial purchase, installation and maintenance of the lights – not just for a month, but to expand the number of trees covered in lights and the number of months they are lit,” said Deborah DeWees, executive director of the WWU Alumni Association. “This was our way of saying Bellingham is home to our alumni, our main campus and our students, and we want to be a meaningful partner. The Paint B’ham Blue for WWU program set the stage for this to happen.”

On Wednesday, Sept. 27 – the first day of fall classes at Western ­– the WWU Alumni Association will host Paint B’Ham Blue for WWU. For the second year, WWU President Sabah Randhawa and Associated Students President Simrun Chhabra will lead the procession of students from Western’s Red Square, assembling at 5:30 and starting at 5:45 p.m. to the Depot Market Square for festivities there.

I’ve heard from dozens of alumni who have gathered their friends to attend along with parents of incoming freshman who’ve let me know their students will be participating.

“We’re really excited for the second year of what we hope will be a new tradition. Paint B’ham Blue is a wonderful way to build community by welcoming new students to Bellingham, engaging local alumni and friends of Western, and celebrating the interconnectedness of Western and the greater Bellingham community,” President Randhawa said. “Much of what makes this such a great place to live, work and study lies in that overlap, and we’re glad to deepen those connections with new students at Paint B’ham Blue for WWU.”

In its inaugural year, Paint B’ham Blue for WWU brought together local business vendors and organizations offering food, samples, discounts, and information to welcome students to the community and introduce or reintroduce them to their college town. Daylight Properties unveiled the new LED lights on the iconic Herald sign by turning the sign blue and setting off a fireworks and light show on the building. The event drew more than 1,500 students and alumni in its first year and is anticipated to grow this year.

On Sept. 27, alumni and community supporters will gather at the WWU City Center in the Herald building for a reception with Mayor Linville before grabbing their cowbells to form a human corridor of cheers for Western students proceeding downtown for the celebration. Students will make a stop in the Herald Building parking lot to sign their names on the WWU Vikings Banner and then head to the party in Depot Market Square. This year’s celebration will feature live music, WWU alumnus D.J. Nathan Cox (’07), food trucks, vendor booths and free samples. Alumni are invited to join the festivities and gather at the Boundary Bay Brewing beer garden which will be set up on Railroad Avenue.

“We anticipate hundreds more students and local alumni to join in this year’s celebration. The buzz of last year’s success and welcome has been growing. I’ve heard from dozens of alumni who have gathered their friends to attend along with parents of incoming freshman who’ve let me know their students will be participating,” DeWees said. “Showcasing the strength of the WWU family alongside the downtown Bellingham retailers in this way demonstrates that we are a proud college town. Go B’ham, Go Vikings!”

Linville said that, “Bellingham welcomes back our Western student family and we’re happy to help sponsor this event.” 

In addition to the City of Bellingham, Paint B’ham Blue for WWU is sponsored by the following local businesses and organizations: Presenting sponsor – Peoples Bank; Fireworks sponsor – Rocket Donuts; and Daylight Properties; Downtown Bellingham Partnership; Western Washington University; Chmelik Sitkin Davis; Faithlife; Woods Coffee; The Bellingham Herald; and Bellingham Bar & Grill.      

This is a free event for WWU students, alumni, faculty and staff. More details can be found on the event registration page.

Thursday, September 21, 2017 - 8:52am