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Crafts, caricatures and 'Crazy Pants' just another Family Day at UML

By Used with permission from the Lowell Sun Online. By STEPHANIE COYNE

LOWELL Wearing sun block and sandals, UMass Lowell faculty, students and alumni gathered on the university's campuses this weekend to celebrate their annual Fall Festival.

Pumpkins and Halloween decorations adorned the neighborhood as Family Day was held on the South Campus during the unseasonably warm day yesterday.

The event featured a craft fair, food booths, pony rides, live music and caricature artists, as family members came to visit and spend some time with students living away from home at college.

Booths set up by student groups offered a variety of items for sale to raise money to help offset some of the organization's expenses. The talents included pumpkins decorated by the Historical Society, scarves and potholders by the Crochet Club, and carved pumpkins by the Engineering Student Council.

Entrepreneur Sara Evens, a junior, set up a booth selling her creation "Crazy Pants" a brightly decorated set of polar-fleece pajama pants.

In her quest to find a comfortable pair of pajama bottoms, the 20-year-old Ohio resident couldn't find anything "comfy enough," so she decided to create her own.

Before long, friends and dorm mates began putting in their orders at $25 a shot.

But Evens has no long-term plans to corner the pajama market just yet. She plans to continue toward her goal of earning a degree in sound-recording technology.

"I want to work in live sound," she said while resetting the signs on her table.

The tastier side of the displays included foods such as pastelitos flan; fried dough filled with ground beef by the Latin American Student Association; chicken, beef and veggie kebobs by the Society of Physics Students; and Philly cheese subs by Smith Hall residents.

Those offerings made lunchtime easier for Brenda Keeler and her family after their long ride.

The Auburn resident drove up yesterday with her husband, William, and 21-month-old son, Ethan, to visit for Family Day.

Keeler's 18-year-old daughter, Olivia Richard, is in her freshman year at the university pursuing a degree in engineering.

"This is a nice chance to bring the little ones up to visit their siblings away at college," said Keeler. "There are great things to do, especially for the little ones."

Music by Tony Vacca and the World Rhythms Ensemble entertained the crowd as children enjoyed pony rides and an inflatable slide and moonwalk.

Samantha Ciaraldi, 8, spent some time at one of the booths making her own beaded bracelet while her mom, Janice Ciaraldi looked on.

"We come every year," said Janice, a Salem, N.H., resident and associate director of resident life at the university. "I love to see all the students and support their fund-raising efforts."