Individually-wrapped snacks, socially distant blankets and chairs and an inflatable movie screen: “Fright Night on Broad” had all the makings of a Halloween-themed movie night amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 40 students braved the cold to watch in an in-person showing of “A Nightmare Before Christmas” at the 15th Street Parking Lot on 15th Street near Montgomery Avenue on Wednesday night.
Hosted by Howard Gittis Student Center Operations and Student Activities, the movie night was intended to build a sense of community for students during a semester that was mostly virtual, said Alicia Ferguson, event coordinator at the Howard Gittis Student Center.
“We felt if we could do something that was safe but also able to bring people together without putting them in danger, it would give them a sense of college life,” Ferguson said. “Especially the first-year students.”
The event was possible because Philadelphia increased size limits on outdoor events on Oct. 13, said Jennylee Ramos, assistant director for Student Activities. Students who attended the event were required to wear a mask and sit socially distanced in small groups, she added.
“We made sure we had sanitation stations, made sure everyone was properly spaced,” Ramos said. “We made sure we were checking everything off our list.”
Marielle Luke, a senior public relations major who attended the event, said it’s been difficult to find the same sense of community she felt in previous years because of the pandemic.
“It’s definitely weird going into my last year walking around and not seeing anyone on campus,” Luke said. “But I think events like this are a really good idea. It gives people an opportunity to come together.”
Vesey Banuel, a freshman media arts major, attended the event with friends he had met in his residence hall. Meeting people on campus has been difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Wednesday’s event was a good way to get out of his residence hall and be around other students, he said.
“It’s definitely been harder to go out and meet people and still be safe,” he added. “It’s kind of hard to do events right now but this is something perfect for it. This isn’t the freshman year that I expected, but I’m looking forward to the following years when more events like this are possible.”
Jackie Copperman was looking forward to this event all week because she loves “A Nightmare Before Christmas,” she said.
Copperman, a freshman early childhood education major, came with her roommate, expecting to be some of the only people attending. They were surprised by the small crowd gathered in the parking lot.
“Maybe this will give us something of a normal experience,” Copperman said. “It’s not what I imagined but we’re making the best out of it.”