Students venture into uncharted territory

Family and friends gather to watch the NIU Steel Drum Band at the intersection of Second Street and Locust Street Thursday afternoon.

By John Bachmann

DeKALB | Despite the short proximity from campus, there are still some students who are not very familiar with downtown DeKalb.

This is why Debbie Armstrong, DeKalb Area Convention & Visitors Bureau coordinator, and the rest of the convention organization helped come up with the idea for Huskies SEE (Shop Eat Enjoy) DeKalb.

“I’ve been asked to give tours to students in the past and thought this would be a much more enjoyable way to see the downtown than a bus tour,” Armstrong said. She also said she would like to see this become an annual event.

Living on a campus often means for some that it’s hard to get outside of the area.

DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen likes how the event is able give students more to do outside of NIU.

“Students come here and live in their own vacuum,” Povlsen said. “The downtown has a lot to offer them and they should be able to enjoy it.”

The distance between campus and the downtown area is a short one but may same further away to those who haven’t been there.

Jennifer Groce, executive director of Re:New DeKalb, said some students don’t realize the closeness between the campus and the downtown area.

“This gives them a hands-on guide to how close the downtown is,” Groce said.

The relationship between NIU and downtown DeKalb is something that’s been going on for a long time.

“Over 100 years now, merchants have had their doors open to students,” said NIU President John Peters.

What Peters really likes about Huskies SEE DeKalb was it helped fill the void for students to check out the downtown area that Corn Fest used to provide until it moved its location to the DeKalb Municipal Airport, 3232 Pleasant St.

At the event there were several volunteers who were there to help assist students around the area.

One of the volunteers, Sue Johnson, a fifth generation DeKalb resident, said she wants the students to appreciate the downtown.

“They need to notice they’ll like here and should utilize it,” Johnson said.

Many of the downtown businesses participated in Huskies SEE DeKalb having special offers and giveaways for the event.

Lauren Olah, one of the managers for O’Leary’s Irish Pub & Grill, 260 E. Lincoln Highway, said the event was beneficial for students.

“It’s good that the kids got to check out the downtown and see what’s there,” Olah said.

The students who were there, enjoyed their visit.

Jordon Lucas, freshman computer science major, went to the event as part of his UNIV 101 class and found his first time to the downtown to be a good experience.

“It’s a good way to see this part of DeKalb and to get used to it,” Lucas said. “Before I came here, I didn’t even know that there was a downtown out here.”

Huskie’s SEE DeKalb was something Jenny Hixon, sophomore physical therapy major, wishes she had when she was a freshman.

“I didn’t come out to the downtown area until halfway through my freshman year,” Hixon said.

Peters said when parents come for a weekend to visit, students should make use of the downtown.

“When the folks are in, have them buy you a big dinner at one of the restaurants here,” Peters said.