(EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.) Soon it will be February in the Midwest, so it's time to don that swimsuit, grab your best friend and head for the beach-in the Goshen Lounge.
Yes, in honor of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's 50th Anniversary Celebration, the "Goshen Ocean" is making a comeback. After a 15-year hiatus, some 12 tons of sand will be dumped in the recessed area of Goshen Lounge, on the first floor of SIUE's Morris University Center for the Feb. 6 event. This will be the sixth Goshen Ocean since 1980.
"Lyle Ward and I were part of the planning for student activities in those days," said Steve Sperotto, now director of the SIUE Kimmel Leadership Center. Ward was assistant director of the Morris University Center at the time. Ward retired in 2000.
"One of the students on that planning committee suggested we do an event in Goshen Lounge that was just the opposite of what the students might expect in the middle of winter," Sperotto said. "So, we came up with an idea to re-create a beach."
In an SIUE news release written in 1981, Ward was quoted as saying that the administration was interested in providing more activities to keep students on campus. Remember, at the time only upperclassmen and families were living on campus in what was then known as the Tower Lake Apartment Complex (now Cougar Village). Residence halls were still a thing of the future. The remaining students were commuters and traditionally left campus immediately following classes for the day. "If they (students) are not involved in campus life while they are in school, it is much more difficult to get them to return as alumni," Ward said. "They need a bit of fun before going back to the books again."
So, as part of the annual student activities calendar, a Goshen Lounge event was planned to be scheduled each February. The first event was the Goshen Ocean followed by the Goshen Rodeo the next year. Goshen Ocean returned in 1984, 1986, 1989 and 1993, each time providing a place for sand volleyball, building sandcastles, hula dancing, cavorting in swimsuits and dreaming of warm weather to come.
In addition, this year's activities will include a "Tacky Tourist Contest," relay races with goggles and fins, and a limbo contest. For more information, call the Kimmel Leadership Center, (618) 650-2686
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is proud to celebrate its 50th Anniversary and first half century of excellence. The University has grown from 1,776 students in 1957 to nearly 13,500 students today. SIUE is a catalyst for the cultural and intellectual vitality and economic development of Southwestern Illinois and the greater St. Louis region.