In what follows, graduate student Frank Cruz describes a different kind of English Department event, “Zachary Day.” The day commemorated Frank’s son Zachary, who passed away unexpectedly on February 27, 2009, just two weeks before his sixth birthday, when he was hit and killed by an automobile as he crossed the street in Berkeley.
On Saturday, March 6th, the English department at UC Berkeley opened its doors to kids of all ages in Zach’s memory and held an event called Zachary Day, which faculty organizers hope will become an annual celebration of department children and all things fun.
Led by Professors Sue Schweik and Lyn Hejinian, faculty, staff, and grad students came together to transform Wheeler Hall, “home to the country’s finest English scholars and students,” into a place where children were more central than Chaucer, at least for a few hours on a beautiful Saturday morning.
Graduate students and faculty brought out acoustic guitars, banjo, violin, and tambourines to sing and play Beatles covers on the steps of of the department, while inside another group (including a few professors) played Beatles Rock Band in one of the classrooms. Dozens of balloons floated to the ceiling in the lobby, where tables were covered with cupcakes, cookies, and other snacks. Children and adults alike enjoyed face painting, tug-of-war, an egg race, a water balloon toss, and a home run derby. Several graduate students were spotted throwing parachute army men and water balloons from a third floor window… Thankfully no one was harmed on the ground and the students eventually came down of their own accord.
The event’s organizers planned the day to correspond with what would have been Zachary’s 7th birthday on March 12th. I want to thank everyone involved for helping to make a difficult time a little easier for my family and I and especially for helping to keep Zachary’s joyful spirit alive. I can’t tell you how much fun he would have had at something like this.
More photos from the day and information about Zachary can be found at the http://www.zacharymichaelcruz.com/index.php