MERCED — Thousands of people streamed in and out of downtown businesses Friday while buying food, shopping and listening to music during Cap n Town.
The annual celebration connects Merceds entertainment district with the celebration of those graduating today and Sunday at UC Merced. Past events have drawn as many as 10,000 people to Main Street.
Many graduates used the event to show their visiting families a good time. A portion of Main Street was blocked off to make room for the revelers.
It featured food, music, exhibits, arts, crafts booths, fun for children and a car show. Three stages offered music from bands like Feeling Gravitys Pull, The Banshees and the Danny Garza Band, among others.
The first Cap n Town was held in 2009 to welcome first lady Michelle Obama to Merced and celebrate the graduation of the first four-year class at UC Merced. Since then, the event has expanded to include graduates of all age levels, from all schools.
Also on Friday, groundskeepers were putting the finishing touches on the stage and walkways on the grassy hill where 1,100 UC Merced students will cross the stage and accept their diplomas.
The university is expecting to hand out 1,060 bachelors degrees, 16 masters degrees and 24 doctoral degrees, according to a press release. The graduating class is made up of more women than men, at 608 to 474, respectively. Eighteen of the graduates did not mark either male or female on their applications for enrollment.
Kristina M. Johnson, chief executive officer of Enduring Hydro LLC and former U.S. undersecretary for energy, will speak to candidates in the schools of Natural Sciences and Engineering, and Merced Superior Court Judge Paul C. Lo will speak to those from the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts.
Graduates of the School of Engineering and School of Natural Sciences will be involved in the ceremony at 9 a.m. today, and commencement for the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts is planned at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Both take place in the South Bowl, near the center of the campus.
Parking will be available in the Le Grand Lot, on the western end of the campus, but a parking pass is needed.