The Students Association will conduct its fifth annual Welcome to Abilene event from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday in the Teague Special Events Center, with more than 50 businesses and churches represented to help incoming freshman and transfer students connect with the off-campus community.
S.A. President Connor Best said 30 businesses and 25 churches reserved booth space at this year’s event to greet the new students and provide them with information about Abilene. Best said the event will well serve students who want to find a local church home.
“I think Welcome to Abilene is where they first meet the church they get connected to to rest of college,” Best said.
Terrance Crisp, college minister at Minda Street Church of Christ, agreed that the first year of college is an important time to find a spiritual community and that Welcome to Abilene helps fill that need.
“We just want to make sure the incoming students realize how important it is to identify with a local church that can serve them, and they can serve in as well,” Crisp said.
But Welcome to Abilene isn’t just about the interaction with churches, but the notable businesses in the nearby area.Â Students can expect to see representatives and even some product samples from places such as Jason’s Deli and Monk’s Coffee. Business is not the only major change from last year’s event: Live entertainment will replace the major giveaway. Last year, students flocked to Welcome to Abilene in hopes of winning an iPad. This time the main attraction will be live entertainment.
The event will be a welcome back for the sounds of The Light Parade. Band members and ACu alumni Kara DuBose and Alex Howard recently ended a summer tour over in Ireland and have been performing at various venues in Austin since their return to the U.S.
Last year’s event took place in the Hunter Welcome Center, but Best said the location was moved to the Teague as part of S.A.’s effort to make Welcome to Abilene a “hang out” event. The S.A. is projecting a high attendance of 600 students and hopes the location change will cut down on lines inside the expo and the rush to leave.
“The first section of Teague will be the hang out spot with tables so they don’t have to leave as soon as they’ve been through all the booths,” Best said. “That’s where The Light Parade is going to be playing.”