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Why the blue lights on downtown Bellingham trees? WWU students return Sept. 21

eabell@bhamherald.com

A few downtown blocks are about to turn blue – Viking blue – as Western Washington University gears up to start classes Wednesday, Sept. 21.

That afternoon, the university’s alumni association will host Paint B’ham Blue for WWU. The new freshmen orientation event aims to bring students downtown to get to know the city they will call home for the next four years (or so). Chris Roselli, director of young alumni and student programs for the WWU Alumni Association, said he hopes it will be the first of an annual event.

“We want to make this a new tradition,” Roselli said Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Western is the city’s university – it’s Whatcom County’s university. So we wanted to figure out how can we make this a little bit more of a recognition for our students coming into town that Bellingham is excited to have them here.

Chris Roselli, director of young alumni and student programs for the WWU Alumni Association

The event begins with a gathering on campus at Red Square at 5:45 p.m. Sept. 21, Roselli said. From there, the group and its volunteer guides will make the mile-long walk to Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave. There, the event will host vendors from a variety of local stores, restaurants and organizations. The Comics Place, video rental store Film Is Truth 24 Times A Second, Mexican restaurant Casa Que Pasa and Goat Mountain Pizza are slated to have booths, Roselli said.

The event will run until 8 p.m.

Though the event isn’t for another week and a half, people in the downtown area may see changes in the coming days. The alumni association, with help from the city of Bellingham, will put up WWU banners along a few downtown streets, and solar-powered rope lights will make trees in the area glow blue. The decorations will be on blocks between Magnolia, Chestnut, State and Commercial streets, Roselli said.

“Western is the city’s university – it’s Whatcom County’s university,” he said. “So we wanted to figure out how can we make this a little bit more of a recognition for our students coming into town that Bellingham is excited to have them here.”

Along with the city, other sponsors for the event include the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, Boundary Bay Brewing Company and Peoples Bank.

The event will also coincide with the lighting of the Herald Building’s new HERALD sign. Once it’s installed, the sign will have the ability to light up in an array of colors, and, for the first time in the building’s history, it will swap its signature red glow for Viking blue the evening of Sept. 21. WWU President Sabah Randhawa and Stephanie Cheng, Associated Students president, will flip the switch to light the sign.

Attendees will also have the chance, from 6-8 p.m., to sign a Viking banner that will hang on the southwest side of the building for the school year, Roselli said.

Students and alumni interested in volunteering at the event can register at the event’s webpage at alumni.wwu.edu/paintbhamblue. The registration link is at the bottom of the page.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

If you go

What: Paint B’ham Blue for WWU freshmen orientation event

Where: Meet in Red Square on WWU campus, then mile-long walk to Depot Market Square downtown

When: 5:45-8 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 21

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