The following is a republished press release from the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and NOT written by the Ithaca Voice … click here to submit community announcements directly to The Voice, or contact me at

ITHACA, NY – Each year, thousands of new college students come to Ithaca, but only a few of them may be aware of the activities, services, shopping, dining, and culture that exists beyond the college campus walls or Collegetown.

To boost the freshmen and transfer students’ awareness of life at the bottom of the hill, the Downtown Ithaca Alliance (DIA) is partnering with Ithaca College, Cornell University and Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) to host its first-ever welcome weekends, two consecutive activity-packed Saturday afternoons designed to acquaint college students with downtown.

From noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 27, an estimated 700 new Ithaca College students, several residence assistants, and staff will make the trek down the hill to participate in Downtown Day – one of the scheduled activities happening as part of Ithaca College’s “Bomber Weekend.” Shops and restaurants have teamed up to offer a variety of activities, coupons and samples to students during the day, and DIA has organized a few walking tours and contests throughout the day to help students familiarize themselves with their home away from home.

Roughly 1,800 first-time Cornell University students along with Cornell RAs, and staff are expected to participate in CU Downtown–an identical fun-filled day in downtown for new Cornell students from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3. CU Downtown is also a part of a Cornell University organized weekend of planned activities for new students.

“Welcome Weekends is the culmination of years of trying to better connect with the student population, to entice them to frequently visit downtown. This partnership with universities and TCAT and the merchants working together to promote their offerings demonstrates each entity’s commitment to making downtown a part of student life,” said Allison Graffin, Director of Marketing for Downtown Ithaca Alliance.

Downtown Ithaca regularly offers crowd-drawing events, and the city is home to unique boutiques, galleries, and shops, specialty stores, health care services, theaters, and dozens of locally-owned restaurants that serve a variety of American and ethnic foods.

The DIA, as part of Welcome Weekends, will provide students with a glimpse of these types of establishments that are available on the Commons, Cayuga Green, Press Bay Alley & west downtown, Dewitt Mall and Aurora Street/East State during a series of guided walking tours. Students will also have the opportunity to learn more about the city’s businesses through an old-fashioned scavenger hunt with a Pokemon twist.

While experiencing the city’s sights, students will also have the opportunity to watch some of Ithaca and Cornell’s student dancing, singing and/or instrumental performance groups at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on The Commons. These performances are an exemplary collection of the talent and creativity among students at both campuses, and the public is encouraged to take in the many performances on both Saturdays.

Self-guided exploration of downtown will round out the Welcome Weekends activities.

“We are excited that our students will be able to learn about all that the downtown vendors and venues have to offer. It’s also a great chance for students to experience the TCAT system with free rides from campus to downtown and back. We are grateful for the partnership with the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and look forward to exploring future collaborations,” said Jacqueline Winslow, assistant director for Residential Education at Ithaca College.

Prior to experiencing downtown’s offerings, the students will learn how to use the TCAT system – an often intimidating task to those who have never utilized public transportation in Ithaca or anywhere.

“TCAT is extremely happy and grateful to be part of this wonderful, worthy events and to collaborate with the Downtown Ithaca Alliance to acquaint students with our many community gems, to include the Ithaca Commons, and of course TCAT. We hope that this event will introduce incoming students to our system and take any mystery or trepidation out of using public transit,” said TCAT spokesperson Patty Poist.

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.