Saturday afternoon marked Ryerson’s first Gould Street Party, and organizers say the event could certainly happen again in the future.
Part of Ryerson’s Alumni Weekend, the Gould Street Party invited past graduates and current students out onto the busy blue and gold pathway to enjoy a number of activities including food truck eats and homegrown entertainment.
Hala Bissada, hospitality and tourism management class of ’91 and chair of the event, said the idea “came up because we were looking (for) what kind of activity could boost attendance and also be a little bit more exciting and fun and more inclusive on Alumni Weekend.”
There are many events that make up Alumni Weekend — reunions for specific programs, sports games and the Ryerson Dinner. But Bissada said a street party was more accessible to everyone.
“We wanted something that would still attract alumni, as well as an event that would be inclusive for students and bring those two groups together,” she said.
Since Gould St. is already closed to most traffic, it made for a convenient location.
Saturday was cloudy and chilly, but alumni sporting blue and gold scarves still filled the street to check out a used book sale, silent auction and headliner Peter Katz, a Juno-nominated folk musician who graduated from Ryerson Theatre School in 2004.
Katz said the performance was a bit nostalgic. “I have a real soft spot for Ryerson. Great memories there.”
He recalls bartending at the campus pub, wishing he were the one playing loud music outside.
Katz said the invitation he received to perform was a tip of the hat.
“There’s something about the approval of a parent, or something like that. (It’s) nice that they (Ryerson) thought of me and were proud of me as an (alumnus).”
A highlight of the event showcased the talent that gathers at Ryerson, both past and present.
“(The stage) was one of the best parts of the whole day,” Bissada said.
There were also performances by the finalists of Ryerson’s Got Talent — a contest started specifically for the Gould Street Party.
Ryerson MBA alumnus and stand-up comedian Adam Jamal kicked off Saturday’s entertainment acts at 11 a.m. Jamal was one of five winners of Ryerson’s Got Talent, which received over 40 submissions.
“Being able to perform at my alma mater was really great,” Jamal said. “I graduated two years ago and I’m still getting opportunities from Ryerson.”
Jamal said he found out about Ryerson’s Got Talent through social media and other networking tools used by the university, which goes to show how easy it is to stay connected after convocation.
“Ryerson is really there for their alumni,” he said.
Bissada added that it was nice to see current students at the event. It’s also a way to “get students involved early so they can see how much fun it is to be part of the university, and then, once they’ve graduated, remain part of (Ryerson).”
The numbers are still being crunched, but over 1,000 alumni took part in the weekend’s events.
“Preliminary signs indicate that we had very strong support — the best ever,” Bissada said.
As for the Gould Street Party, Bissada said, “It was so well received, they’ll (the alumni board) seriously consider having it again … It made it so much more festive.”
Below is a Storify of tweets from the Gould Street Party, and other events that took place during Ryerson’s Alumni Weekend.