OGDEN -- With the first week of scholarly studies behind them, or almost, thousands of Weber State University students on Friday morning crowded the grounds for the ninth annual WSU Block Party.
Dozens of booths offered information on clubs, college majors and local organizations offering chances for recreation or to volunteer. Students filled souvenir bags with free candies and snacks, along with informational flyers about campus opportunities.
"It's fun to learn about the clubs, and a lot of things look like fun," said Mylee Davis, 20, who transferred from Brigham Young University to play on WSU's softball team. "All of this makes me excited to be here. The purple pancakes look really, really gross, but they're actually pretty good."
The free breakfast is an annual tradition, said Brad Mortensen, WSU vice president for university advancement, one of several administrators serving up free flapjacks.
The grayish purple pancake hue that some diners found concerning is pure Weber State spirit, he said.
"The block party welcomes students back to start the fall semester," said Mortensen. "We want them to be successful. What better way than to start off with a purple pancake?"
Block Party chair Nikki Nicholas said the event is intended as a warm welcome to WSU.
"The block party is a chance to calm some back-to-school jitters," she said. "This is an opportunity for current students, or anyone interested, to connect in a relaxed, enjoyable environment and begin the year on a high note."
Last year's event drew an estimated 6,500 students, faculty and staff members, and people from the community, according to WSU figures.
For Woody Johnson, 26 and a history major from Bountiful, Friday wasn't his first time at the party.
"It's just something fun to do between classes," said Johnson, snacking on a frozen chocolate banana sample he got from the WSU computer labs' yellow, banana-shaped booth. "The booths are nice, but what really catches my attention is when they have fun stuff to do, and food."
Johnson posed behind the Performing Arts Department's wooden panel painted with a stylized princess, with a cutout where her face should have been. A friend took a picture of the princess, with Johnson's face, and threatened to post it on Facebook. Then a booth volunteer offered Johnson an ice pop.
"What flavor do you got?" he asked, gamely. "You got pink?"
Booths were hosted by WSU Hockey; the Chinese Club; the WSU Neuroscience Program; two gay-straight alliances, one for students and one for faculty and staff; the Japan Club; the Ogden Symphony Ballet Association; WSU Housing, Grace Community Church; the WSU Honors program; and WSU Career Services, to name just a few groups. Students were invited to play games, pose for snapshots with a standee of Waldo Wildcat, listen to live entertainment, and be inspired by a pep rally. For those who bought tickets, a Taste of Ogden offered savory samples provided by area restaurants.
Gorden Warner, 47, visited the party as a prospective student.
"I hope to be a student next time this year," the Ogden resident said. "I love numbers, and accounting seems like a perfect fit. I'm excited about coming to Weber State. This looks like a great place."
Haiping Xu, 21 and an Ogden resident who came from China for her degree, checked out some of the booths with her friends.
"It's fun to play some games, but during school I just focus on my major, economics," she said. "This year's party is more big and more fun."