My late father was the kind of guy who loved to watch any kind of neighborhood construction project, major tree trimming, etc. And if you are one of those kindred spirits, this week is the week to watch the WFU webcam.
This is the week that the Commencement tent will be erected and 10,000 chairs (yes, you read that right!) will be laid out in pristine and orderly rows on the lush green Quad grass. (As I type this blog post, I am peeking at the webcam and the grass is getting a final mow, and it is in a stripe pattern the length of the Quad. Lookin’ good!)
The first big part of the Commencement construction will be the tent where the speakers and the platform party sit. There is a raised platform under the tent so the audience can have a better view of the speakers and students as they receive their diplomas.
What usually happens – and I would expect this to begin sometime later this morning – is they bring in all the poles and support for the platform and the tent, and they lay these long silver pipes out all over the Quad in a skeletal outline of the structure. It looks a bit like an archeological dig, and I have lovingly named the bare bones skeleton the Tentasauras Rex. Once the bones are in place, they will start to raise the yellow and white striped tent. Tent goes up first, then the platform within it.
After that typically comes the chairs. The rental company brings them on to the Quad in giant stacks – this set has 225 in it – and those get placed at regular intervals along the brickway to later be moved on to the grass. But first, everything has to be measured and ready. There are long string lines that are used to set the exact path of the chairs and rows. The chairs are different colors – I can’t remember if it is black for graduates and brown for guests, but once they are all up, you’ll see the color differentiation on the webcam. It takes a long time to lay out 10,000 chairs.
So if you like to see behind the curtain, keep your eyes tuned to the webcam over the coming days. It can be a nice way to take a quick coffeebreak or visit the site over lunch. And you might be surprised, particularly on the chair-laying days, to see what a well-oiled machine it is.
If your student is graduating next weekend, do yourself a favor and take your shoes off and step on the grass and walk down one of the grass walkways. There is no better grass than pre-Commencement grass. It’s like a lush green blanket. Feels wonderful under the feet.