SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — For the first time ever, Syracuse’s University Union hosted a “Block Darty” featuring live music from popular girl groups and singers including The Aces, Sarah Kinsley and Ella Jane.

The Block Darty was an all-day celebration held on the Syracuse University quad on Friday, April 28, that brought back the fun and excitement of an end-of-semester party, similar to the University’s Mayfest’s of the past.

The last time Syracuse University hosted an end-of-the-semester celebration was in 2019 when the last Mayfest — an annual celebration with live music, events and food — happened in Walnut Park.

The Block Darty this year was the first time an event like Mayfest was brought back to Syracuse University, with a full afternoon party filled with live music, food, and games before the annual Block Party at the Dome.

The event was free of charge for Syracuse University students and SUNY ESF students and featured free food trucks and brand activations in addition to the on-stage performances.

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Performances included Utah alternative pop band, The Aces, internet-famous singer-songwriter, Ella Jane, and Columbia graduate turned pop music star, Sarah Kinsley.

“The more we do it, the more we’re gonna reach that sort of Mayfest that happened four years ago. This is the first time that we’ve had artists here which is something that Mayfest used to do where we would have smaller artists outside before we had Block Party which had the bigger artists,” said Luke Berninger, Director of Performing Arts for University Union.

“University Union strives to create these opportunities and these events for the student body and crushes it every single time. To be involved in something as big and large scale as this is a pleasure and an honor and such a fulfilling thing to do,” said Berninger.

Other Union members including University Union President, Thomas Simmons, Vice President, Heather Johnson and President-Elect, Sam Johnston, all shared similar thoughts on how Block Darty is unlike anything they’ve done before.

“We’ve been in partnership with the Student Government Student Association and they’ve been able to help add other attractions and catering, so it’s been an all-around game changer,” said Simmons.

Johnson added that this year they’ve also been able to incorporate the Syracuse community into the festival with local vendors.

“We’ve been able to integrate the Syracuse community by having local vendors such as the artists giving airbrush tattoos and a psychic to give readings,” said Johnson.

Every artist who came out to play at Block Darty said it was great playing at Syracuse, including the lead singer of The Aces, which headlined the show.

“We’ve played a lot of colleges in the past in our career,” said Cristal Ramirez, lead singer of The Aces, who headlined Block Darty this year. “It was great, there were so many really sweet people coming up to say hi and waiting to take pictures and stuff. You never know with college shows, you just show up and don’t know what it’s gonna be and the experience is always different. It was great today and super fun, there was a lot of fans in the crowd that knew all the lyrics, it was great.”

As a Syracuse local, Johnston believes this event was like anything else University Union has ever done and it’s something that he hopes will continue in the future as President-Elect.

“As a Syracuse local, I’ve been able to watch many variations of Block Party and how its developed over the years, and by far this Block Darty event is one of the coolest things I’ve seen us do,” said Johnston.

Although University Union can’t predict if the Block Darty will become an annual tradition, their hope is that this Block Darty will continue for years to come. 

“There’s a lot I’m gonna miss because I know it’s gonna get better and better by the year and we’re going to keep improving on it, so it’s always going up,” said Simmons.

Johnson, who’s only a sophomore, has said being in executive leadership so young has widened her perspective on how she can enable University Union in the future.

“It’s a huge privilege to be able to have the means to put on a production like this and being able to program for my fellow peers, students and teachers is a great heartwarming feeling. It also is very parallel to what people do in the real life with music business, so it’s awesome to be able to experience that in college,” said Johnson.