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People will see plenty of blue in Bellingham on Wednesday

Raw drone footage of fireworks atop the Herald Building

Western Washington University officials turned the sign atop the Herald Building blue and hosted a fireworks show as part of "Paint B’ham Blue for WWU," a freshman orientation event Wednesday, Sept. 21 that the university's alumni association aims
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Western Washington University officials turned the sign atop the Herald Building blue and hosted a fireworks show as part of "Paint B’ham Blue for WWU," a freshman orientation event Wednesday, Sept. 21 that the university's alumni association aims

The trees in the core of downtown Bellingham are looking a little blue.

It’s not because they’re depressed, but it’s to welcome the freshman class of Western Washington University to the city they will call home for the next period of their lives.

New students, Western alumni and friends are set to descend on downtown Bellingham Wednesday for the second annual Paint B’ham Blue for WWU celebration to kick off the start of the academic year.

Students will join a procession from Red Square on the Western campus – led by WWU President Sabah Randhawa and Associated Students President Simrun Chhabra – and walk downtown to a warm welcome by alumni and the community.

The assembly at Red Square starts at 5:30 p.m. and the event ends at 8 p.m.

A special downtown festival – exclusively for the WWU community – will take place in Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave., featuring DJ Nathan Cox, a Western graduate, spinning dance tunes.

Food trucks, local vendors and giveaways are also on tap. Alumni are invited to join the festivities and gather at the Boundary Bay Brewing beer garden which will be set up on Railroad Avenue.

The Herald sign turns blue during a fireworks show at Western's Paint B'ham Blue event on Thursday, Sept. 21, in Bellingham.

The event culminates in the lighting of the iconic sign atop the Herald Building in Viking blue, followed by a brief fireworks display. Last year was the first time in the building’s history it swapped its signature red glow for Viking blue.

Students will also sign their names on the WWU Viking Banner, located in the Herald Building parking lot.

Downtown businesses will display WWU signs if they offer student and alumni discounts. Light poles throughout downtown will be decorated with Viking banners and the WWU Viking flag will also fly on the roof of the Herald Building.

More than 180 trees throughout downtown have been decked out in blue.

The event serves as freshman orientation and aims to bring students downtown to get to know the city.

Last year, a group of about 1,500 students made the trek from campus to the heart of downtown, and this year organizers expect a larger turnout.

Western’s renovated Carver Facility was also completed just in time for the freshman class.

The 163,822 square-foot building provides classrooms, computer labs and gymnasiums which will play host to WWU’s athletic teams.

The Western basketball and volleyball teams had been playing at Whatcom Community College since August 2015.

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

INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS

Student date & time: Sept. 27, 2017 – 5:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Student march timeline:

▪ 5:30 p.m., students meet in Red Square.

▪ 5:45 p.m., depart for downtown.

▪ 6 p.m., arrive downtown for festivities.

▪ 7:30 p.m., join the countdown as the Herald Building turns WWU Blue.

INFORMATION FOR ALUMNI:

Alumni date & time: Sept. 27, 2017 – 4:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Alumni timeline:

▪ 4:30 p.m., arrive at the Western City Center, 1155 N. State St. No. 110, for a hosted reception.

▪ 6:10 p.m., welcome WWU Bellingham’s newest residents, join the festivities, and enjoy a beverage at Boundary Bay.

▪ 7:30 p.m., join the countdown as the Herald Building turns WWU Blue.

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