Downtown Turlock was all red and gold on Wednesday evening as Stanislaus State students mingled in local businesses during the Warriors Explore Downtown event hosted by the university, the City of Turlock and the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association.
The event marked the first visit downtown for Stanislaus State freshman Jalen Cleveland, who said he decided to attend in order to get to know the city better and acclimate to his new environment.
“I think it’s really, really cute. There is nothing like this from where I’m from,” said Cleveland. “It looks like something from a movie.”
Nearly 40 participating businesses were marked with red and gold balloons during the event and offered special discounts and services to visiting students and alumni. Students who partook in the “Passport Experience” and visited at least ten participating businesses even qualified to win a variety of raffle prizes, including gift cards, San Francisco Giants tickets, and a Vilano fixed gear bike.
Emporium owner Dana McGarry said that she was glad that the city was finally hosting students in the downtown area so that they could see that there is more to the city than “big box shopping centers.”
“I love my community and I am an alumna of Stan State,” said McGarry. “I think the more we connect with the students as a community, the better relationship we will have in the long run.”
Students who visited her business on Wednesday were able to take advantage of the Warrior Discount Program, which offered a 10 percent discount on everything in the store, and watch the various painting activities that take place in the shop.
Stanislaus State freshman Mayah Chambers was one student who visited Emporium on Wednesday to talk with McGarry about the business and fill out her “Passport Experience” card. Chambers said that she had only been downtown once prior to Wednesday’s event, but she did not see that much since it was only for a dinner.
“This is great because I live on campus and I think it’s important for us to see that we are not just stuck on campus,” said Chambers. “We can see that there is a lot more to do in Turlock.”
The Warriors Explore Downtown event was also the first time that freshman Diana Martinez visited downtown Turlock. Martinez, who commutes from Modesto, decided to attend to socialize with other students and become familiar with the city.
“It’s pretty cool actually,” said Martinez. “I liked the creamery. They have some good ice cream.”
The creamery that Martinez referred to is Oak Barrel Ice and Creamery, which was opened earlier this year. Owner Greg Raynes regarded the event as a great way to attract customers from Stanislaus State as he welcomed a steady stream of new ice cream enthusiasts to his shop.
“This is a town with a college, but not necessarily a college town,” said Raynes. “We want kids to feel comfortable with a lot of the businesses over here. This is a great push to get people downtown.”
Mayor Gary Soiseth, who was in attendance on Wednesday evening and even partook in the dunk tank game, regarded the event as a way for the community to come together to celebrate the university in the downtown area.
“Turlock is proud to be home to Stan State,” said Soiseth. “It’s our goal to strengthen the relationship between the campus and the city, and this is a large step in this direction.”