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A starlight, star bright birthday bash for UNG-Gainesville
Summer event helps campus mark 50 years
Patrons enjoy the tailgate-style atmosphere Friday at the 16th annual Starlight Concert & Fireworks fundraising event at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus. The campus’ 50th anniversary celebration featured an inflatable bounce house, obstacle course and more. All proceeds from the event benefited UNG student scholarships. - photo by CHARLES PHELPS

A golden anniversary calls for celebration.

Whether it’s for people, or a milestone for a community landmark, people celebrate the monumental achievement.

During the 16th Starlight Concert & Fireworks fundraising event at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville Campus on Friday night, alumni and patrons of the community not only enjoyed live music and a fireworks display, they celebrated the campus’ 50th anniversary.

A time capsule that was sealed 50 years ago was opened for all to see what was inside, and an alumni tent was set up for people to look at old yearbooks, photos and more.

The university’s alumni organized the annual gathering. Those who attended paid $10 per car to enjoy the festivities.

Larger vehicles paid $20. All proceeds went toward UNG student scholarships.

“This is the biggest fundraiser for the alumni association,” said Amy Lancaster, UNG alumni relations officer. “It is a big community event here in Gainesville, so a lot of the participants are community members and alumni.”

She said since merging with the UNG Dahlonega campus, a lot of alumni from that campus experienced the event for the first time.

“It’s a great showcase of the campus because we have that community feeling here and we’re excited to incorporate the graduates from the other campuses in the event,” she said.

She also called the atmosphere “family friendly” as children enjoyed a bounce house and inflatable slide. Others played touch football at the tailgate-style gathering.

“I’ve lived in this area for over 30 years and there’s nothing like this, and the college is the perfect place to house something like this,” said alumnus Michael Kleinheinz, who went to the campus from 1984-86 when it was called Gainesville Junior College.

“This was a small junior college when I went. This was the steppingstone to go to UGA, and I went to UGA to finish my degree,” he said. “But this is amazing that it is a four-year college now. I hope it keeps growing.”

Karly Merced of Flowery Branch said she and her family didn’t know about the event until they saw a sign Friday. They decided to see what it was about.

“This has been something fun for the family,” she said after her son, Keoni, 5, slid down an inflatable slide. “I’m glad the money (raised) is used for (scholarships). It’s a good thing. We like to be involved in the community.”