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Students celebrate with crawfish, canoe races at 46th annual Lagniappe Day

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s University Program Council hosted their 46th annual Lagniappe Day this past Friday, April 5.

Students who attended were able to eat unlimited crawfish for $7.82 or a meal swipe, participate in canoe races and witness the time-honored tradition of the lake jump.

Lagniappe Day kicked off at 11 a.m. with the crawfish boil, but some students were already in line to get crawfish before the event started.

At noon, UPC Lagniappe Day Coordinator and freshman nursing major at UL Lafayette Kierstin Rachal performed the daring jump into UL Lafayette’s alligator-inhabited Cypress Lake.

“I was just glad I came out with my legs,” Rachal said.

Some students said they were surprised by the lake jump and felt that it might be dangerous.

“I would never,” Colin Kelly a freshman sports management major at UL Lafayette said. “What happens when something goes wrong and it’s a university-sanctioned event?”

Samantha Arbella, a junior psychology major at UL Lafayette, said Rachal was brave to jump with the alligators.

“Someone has got some guts to dive in with those alligators,” Arbella said.

Despite this, Rachal said she never felt like it was a strong possibility that the lake jump would go wrong.

“I was more worried about the speech I did in communications this morning than jumping in here, honestly,” she said.

At 12:45 p.m., students formed two-person teams for the canoe races. The team “Paddle Power” comprised of Andrew Milner and Buddy Paul “The Paddler” Martin, won the tournament.

Aalayah Richard, a freshman journalism major at UL Lafayette, said she found the canoe races entertaining to watch.

“It’s pretty fun to watch because they all look like they know what they are doing, but they either crash right at the beginning or they make it all the way around and then flip because they’re too busy racing each other to care about anything else,” Richard said.    

Many students said they eagerly anticipate Lagniappe Day every year.

“I love it. I’ve come every year since I was a freshman,” Arbella said. “I’m a sucker for free crawfish.”

Rachal said she choose UL Lafayette just for Lagniappe Day.

“Literally I came to this school for this,” Rachal said. “Who else cooks 20,000 pounds of crawfish?”

Karli Sherman, UPC member, said the event was started by a UL Lafayette basketball coach in the 70s who felt that the spring needed a big event like homecoming. The event has grown since then to include the canoe races and the lake jump, which was started by a former student who did the lake jump every year. The tradition continues even today at UL Lafayette as Philip Beridon began it, according to Ragin’ Wire.

“When I was a student, I saw him do it. He would wear this big, white suit with coattails and buttons all over it, (it was) very eclectic and crazy. He would stand up on the brick wall by the swamp and give this pep talk and flop into the swamp. It was really cool,” Sherman said.

April Pruitt, UPC president, said Lagniappe Day is a treasured tradition for them.

“We take pride in the university, and we love our history that we have here because it’s so rich,” Pruitt said. “Having Lagniappe Day allows students to take a day off, eat some crawfish and canoe on the lake. What other university does that?”

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