• The Official Website of the Exponent, Wisconsin's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper May 17, 2013

Mifflin gone but not forgotten

Matthew Ahasay, Opinion's Editor
May 9, 2013

Normally, waking up at 9 a.m. the day of the Mifflin Street Block Party in Madison would be considered sleeping in; however, this year was an exception in more than one way. The nationally renowned celebration and local tradition, held annually the first Saturday in May, has been killed and the city is no better for it.

Saturday, May 4, was the first “Unofficial Mifflin Street Block Party” in Madison, and there was not much of a party to be found. Instead of a celebration for students by students (with the city’s assistance), all there was to be found was police, police, and, you guessed it, more police.

The police presence at this year’s celebration was absurd. At times, police even outnumbered the student partygoers.  On the infamous street known for being packed with students both local and commuting, Madison was attempting to send a message about Mifflin this year. The amount of police that crowded intersections and patrolled the fabled haven of outlandish celebration made it apparent that the city has declared the party over.

Some students and community members  may scoff and say, “So what?” In contrast, students, alumni and Madison residents have to say, “What now?”

Mifflin is so much more than just an excuse to act lewd, drink to excess and wear neon clothing. It is a celebration of what all students have accomplished in the past year and lauds the hard work, dedication and sleepless nights that every student has experienced. The Mifflin Street Block Party was a gathering of community, old and young, that became a tradition and a rite of passage –  a rite now left void.

What the city is left with is “Mini Mifflins” that have sprung up all over the city. From Langdon St. (which was closed May 3) to Doty St. and everywhere in between, students could be seen carrying on the spirit of the party despite the police crackdown.

So what is the issue?

While it is great that the spirit did not die this year, as students from around the state continued their “last hurrah” before finals, the party was not consolidated and the overall magic was lost. Instead of standing open invitations into back yards, where your peers from across the United States have come to celebrate and congratulate, all that remains is no trespassing signs and a sense of nostalgia usually reserved for alumni or reflecting on the 90s.

Mifflin was not perfect, it was not always safe, and it cost the city money. Despite the flaws and detriments, Mifflin was a way to bridge the gap between classes, colleges and even states. It fostered a sense of community and gave students something spectacular to look forward to before the drudgery of finals set in.

Perhaps, there will be a time when The Mifflin Street Block Party can return, and until that day, many will try in vain to fill the void. Until then, memories, stories and photos will have to suffice until our rite is reinstated.

R.I.P. Mifflin; you will be missed.

 

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