UC Merced

Merced city to host 'Cap&Town' for UC Merced commencement

The city of Merced said it will hold a two-day festival May 15-16 celebrating the UC Merced Class of 2009 graduates and its commencement speaker, First Lady Michelle Obama.

Cap&Town ’09 will be a large street fair and festival focused in downtown Merced, with bands, games, activities and food. The goal is to provide a range of activities for the thousands of people expected for the May 16 graduation.

UC Merced officials estimate between 15,000 and 25,000 people will come to Merced for the weekend because of the appearance by the First Lady. The campus will be able to accommodate about 12,000 people at the graduation.

The festival will be focused on Main Street, between M Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and on Canal Street between Main and 18th streets. The event will run the evening of Friday, May 15. and the afternoon and evening of May 16.

“Strong community support will be needed to make this event a success and to leave a lasting, and positive, impression on the thousands of people who will be visiting Merced for the first time,” said Merced Mayor Ellie Wooten.

A stage and screen will be set up in Bob Hart Square for entertainment and also to broadcast the First Lady’s speech live. Additional screens will be set up around town, including the Sam Pipes Room and the City Council Chambers in the Merced Civic Center. Arrangements are being made to set up screens in other locations so that the community will be able to share the experience of the First Lady’s visit.

Organizers believe a major issue is feeding a crowd that size. While the city wants visitors to patronize local restaurants, the eateries don’t have the capacity to handle the estimated turnout.

Cap&Town organizers are encouraging local service clubs, schools and nonprofit groups with experience in feeding large groups to schedule a fundraising feed for the afternoon and evening of May 16. A map will be printed and distributed throughout the city with a local restaurant guide on one side, and a listing of fundraising meals on the reverse.

People interested in getting their food event listed should call Joey Chavez at (209) 385-6978 or e-mailing him at chavezj@cityofmerced.org.