After a year and a half of limited in-person events and online-only alternatives, the Fall Fest came to us like a dream of Binghamton University past. Finally, students could come together to bring home free goods, embrace autumn traditions with friends and munch on some delicious snacks. While walking down the steps to the Peace Quad and hearing a “Harry Potter” movie playing, I couldn’t help but feel like it was 2019 again. Aside from the cherished mac and cheese or the delicious donuts from The Cider Mill, students were enthusiastic just to attend the event and be able to talk to peers, see friendly faces and laugh while enduring the increasingly frigid temperatures.

This year’s Fall Fest was fairly different from 2019, mostly based on the location being outside instead of in the Mandela Room. This change seemed to solely enhance the atmosphere and turnout, providing more space for social distancing, an opportunity to unmask, space for more activities — including a projection of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” — and an overall autumnal vibe.

Maddie Tucci, a senior majoring in systems science and industrial engineering, said she favored this transition to an outdoor event.

“I liked the fact that it was outside,” Tucci said. “I think that’s easier to attract students, and also it encourages more people to go because there is more space, and you are not as on top of each other.”

In addition to the space and comfort from the event being outside, it also inspired a more attractive environment, as well as an opportunity for realizing and appreciating the presence of campus life.

“I thought the way they decorated it with the tents and the lights was really cute,” Tucci said. “It was nice to see that there were a lot of students walking around and sitting on the Peace Quad to watch the movie.”

Event coordinators expressed equal excitement to the high turnout and strong sense of community the Fall Fest provided. Sydney Ferreira, a member of the Festival Committee of SAPB and a sophomore majoring in anthropology, talked about her thoughts on the night.

“I was really just excited to be involved in something that’s going to bring the school together after months of not really having anything to do because of [COVID-19],” Ferreira said. “So it’s just nice to get involved in any way and communicate with other people and build bonds. And just really immerse myself in the [BU] experience I missed out on.”

Fall Fest gave back some of those missed opportunities. Some highlights were the mac and cheese, nachos, apple cider donuts, apple cider, tote bags and giveaways, free pumpkins and stuff-a-plush raffle, along with the screening of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which had a substantial audience.

“It was insanely crowded, but we were really happy that there was a good turnout. And everyone seems to be really enjoying it,” Ferreira said.

The outdoor atmosphere and the visible nature of an excited, connected student body made Fall Fest an enjoyable experience. Although the dropping temperatures started to test attendees around 7:30 p.m., the brisk fall air made the environment more authentic. The surprisingly immense crowd sheds light on the success of the event and the sense of excitement that it sparked among the student body.