Hundreds of students, parents and alumni filed into Wynn Commons on the morning of April 26 in preparation for Penn’s annual Yardfest — a strolling competition where different Greek organizations perform synchronized dance routines in a single-file line.
“For us, it’s like a second Fling,” Wharton sophomore and co-organizer for the event Rio Dennis said.
The event kicked off the Intercultural Greek Council’s Penn Relays weekend of activities which included performances and community service opportunities for IGC organizations on and off Penn’s campus.
“Yardfest is the stroll competition that happens during the day," College senior Amanda Irizarry said.
"It’s outside and all the organizations under the IGC were strolling and tabling. There’s a lot of community there,” she added. Both Irizarry and Dennis were on the organizing committee for this year's event.
Photo courtesy of Araba Ankuma
As the day came to a close, attendees moved to Irvine Auditorium for the annual Penn Relays Step Show, a tradition among the "Divine Nine" historically black Greek letter organizations.
This year, the show was structured around the theme: "Know Your History." Each of the four participating fraternities and sororities was assigned a decade to structure their step routine around.
The show was hosted by rapper Conceited, who hosts the MTV program "Wild'n Out."
Irizarry said it was not easy to gather participants for the show because stepping is "really hard and a big time commitment."
To rise to the challenge, some participants collaborated with other chapters of their organization.
“We had to reach out to another chapter, Pi Rho, at Temple University,” said Anthony Perry, a Wharton senior and president of Penn’s chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha. “Our two teams came together to step at Penn’s Step Show and Temple’s show. It was a ton of practices. We had to go back and forth between our and Temple’s campus.”
Photo courtesy of Araba Ankuma
Engineering junior Wesley Pennycooke, also a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha, said the collaboration was valuable.
“Even though it was a big time commitment, it was fun to get to link with the brothers from the other chapter, because I don’t think I would’ve had the opportunity to bond with them on that level [otherwise],” he said.
Although her sorority did not perform on Saturday, Irizarry also emphasized the importance of collaboration.
“A lot of the intercultural greek organizations are city-wide, including my own, Lambda Theta Alpha," she said. "Our chapter is at Temple University and UPenn and that, by nature, makes us more likely to know students from other schools and get other schools involved.”
The Penn Relays Step Show was originally initiated by the sisters of Delta Sigma Theta. The full responsibility of organizing the show fell to students last spring for the first time in years, but the event was cancelled.
"Everyone was pretty upset about it," Dennis said. "At the time we were also in the middle of restructuring MGC to IGC. This [year] was a comeback from not having the step show. It’s something that we’ve been fighting for a lot because it means so much to our organizations.”
IGC is planning on expanding this event in the coming years.
“This year was a rebuilding year,” Dennis said. “I definitely see this getting bigger.”