Lion Night organizers pleased with event, despite sparse crowd

Students listen to SCM Electrix, a band made up of three UNA students. Sparse crowds are not going to keep Lion Night organizers from planning more downtown-oriented student events, officials said.

by Student Writer Ryan Paine

The first-ever Lion Night was held Sept. 13 in downtown Florence. Lion Night—a joint venture between SGA, UNA Athletics, the Division of Student Affairs and Florence Main Street—was created with the expressed purpose of starting a new tradition: a specific night for UNA students to enjoy and explore the downtown area, said SGA president Will Riley.

Riley said Lion Night was “definitely a success.”

“We don’t have the exact headcount, but I would say there were several hundred UNA students – as well as people from the community – there,” he said.

Lion Night was born out of an idea of Riley’s to create a “college night” for UNA students in the downtown area. When he mentioned it to Teryl Shields, executive director of Florence Main Street, she immediately voiced support for the idea.

“Downtown adds to what UNA has to offer,” Shields said. “There’s a lot down here for students – they just have to explore.”  

The night featured musical performances by Madeleine Frankford, SCM Electrix and the Gnarley Charlies and, additionally, provided students with an opportunity to take advantage of discounts and extended business hours offered by downtown restaurants, clothing stores and boutiques exclusively for the event.

“I really love the music, it’s really awesome, but there could definitely be more people here.” said sophomore Jodi Kimbrough.

Kimbrough’s sentiment was not an uncommon one. Many attendees seemed to think the event’s attendance was sparse.

Junior Lindsey Hamlin said students could have been staying in, preparing for bed and Friday morning classes.

“I expected there to be a ton of people here, but there were only a few,” she said.

Riley said the event was, perhaps, “under-promoted,” but maintains the SGA did an “excellent” job, when taking into account the short amount of time they had to publicize it.  

To market the event, Riley and the SGA produced a YouTube video, created a Facebook group, sent out a campus-wide email, and painted a mural on the exterior of the GUC.

News of the event did not reach everyone, though.

“I didn’t hear about (Lion Night) until today, actually,” said sophomore Tara Phillips.

Both she and Hamlin urged organizers to advertise more aggressively in the future and said they believe the event will attract more people in time.

Regardless, Riley said most feedback directed to SGA has been positive and said he “absolutely” intended to push for another Lion Night in the near future, hoping to schedule one as soon as April 2013.