This year's Beer Bike will change in format by including a parade of floats and eliminating the second water balloon fight, according to Campus-Wide Beer Bike Coordinators Christian Neal and Eric Baeuerle.
According to Neal, a Lovett College senior, the idea for floats came from a discussion with Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson.
"We talked with [Hutchinson] and discussed the parade, and how it was a popular thing people used to do where colleges used to make a float," Neal said. "Now, with the float leading, bikers then college [students] would all proceed down to the Beer Bike track."
Baeuerle, a Baker College senior, said the inclusion of floats will serve as a more permanent outlet for student creativity during Beer Bike.
"In the past, creativity was expressed through jacks during Willy Week, [which is] all fun and good, but not something permanent," Baeuerle said. "With floats, we want this to be a sort of marker, a monument to college themes. Ideally, we want to see this thing continue."
Sid Richardson College sophomore Meera Namireddy also sees floats as a way to promote college spirit.
"I feel like [float building] will increase college spirit, especially at [Sid Rich] where we have a bunch of freshmen who are in to building interesting contraptions, but it really depends on the college," Namireddy said.
According to Neal, the float parade will lead the students to the bike races in lieu of the second balloon fight because the use of the intramural fields was not approved by the IM fields office and other locations were not available.
"To incentivize people to go to the track, we're having the parade where everyone will move together towards the track," Neal said. "There, we'll have more food vendors; we're spending more money on food for Beer Bike: Papa Johns, Pluckers and several other food options .... We're even looking at breakfast food options."
Hanszen College fifth-year architecture student Josh Hersztein expressed ambivalence regarding the elimination of the second water balloon fight and the addition of the float.
"I thought it was stupid that they had two fights because most colleges didn't have any water balloons left for the second fight," Hersztein said. "However, [the floats] are probably just more money the colleges would rather be spending on other things."
Namireddy, however, points out that from a practical perspective, eliminating the second water balloon fight will mean less work for the clean up crew.
"I guess it will result in less cleanup afterwards," Namireddy said. "I volunteered to clean up last year for freshman service hours and that was a real pain, especially in the really muddy area."
According to Neal, each college will have a set of bleachers with a tent set up behind it, with water being distributed to each tent individually.
"My freshman year, we had benches, but no shade, so there was a ton of sunburn," Neal said. "We'll also be distributing a pallet of water to each tent instead of having a central location to reduce people clustering and there being one big line."
Neal credits Concession Coordinator Drew Petty, Parade Coordinator Massey Branscomb and Security Coordinator Rahul Kothari for putting in the work so that these changes to be made.
"We could not throw Beer Bike or make all these changes without all of their hard work and ideas," Neal said.
Baeuerle said that as a coordinator, he is looking forward to this year's Beer Bike.
"[Neal] and I are both very excited to be part of Beer Bike," Neal said. "We both love and respect the traditions that Rice has. We're honored to be a part of Rice's biggest undergrad and alumni event."