Fiesta no party for economy parking

Frontier Fiesta, billed as the largest event on campus by its organizers, ended its annual three-day course Saturday with students expressing relief that they would again be able to park in the economy lots surrounding Robertson Stadium.

Students with an economy parking permit said they were having trouble finding space near Robertson Stadium last Thursday and Friday, as 81 percent of the economy parking spaces in the area were blocked off to accommodate Frontier Fiesta.

"We understand the complaints, but right now there is nowhere else to hold Frontier Fiesta," Amanda Roberts, chairwoman of Frontier Fiesta, said.

Frontier Fiesta blocked off 37 percent of all student parking spots near Robertson Stadium, which include Lots 11A, 12A, 12B and 15D. The blocked areas account for 19.3 percent of student inner-campus spots, which are located within Scott Street, Wheeler Avenue, Calhoun Road and Elgin Avenue, and 9 percent of total student spots, including economy spots.

Of the 1,281 economy spots in lots 12A and 12B near Robertson Stadium, 1,037 were occupied for the festivities from Thursday to Saturday.

The 345 economy spots in Lot 12B, located northwest of the stadium, had been blocked since March 8.

Frontier Fiesta’s home on lots 12A and 12B was chosen because of its location inside the campus and because the Athletics Department permitted the use of its gazebos outside the stadium for the event.

"Today it took a half hour to park," hotel and restaurant management freshman Monica Raimundo said Wednesday. "It’s really inconvenient. I have homework due everyday 2 minutes before my 11 a.m. class, so to not get a zero, I parked illegally by my class, turned my assignment in, then went back to my car and parked in the lot."

Biology sophomore My Nguyen also had more trouble than usual finding a spot.

"I had to wait 10 to 15 minutes," Nguyen said. "There’s usually parking at this time, so I was like, ‘What’s going on?’"

Not all students were affected, including those who park in the non-economy student lots.

"I didn’t even notice," biology freshman Diego Palomares said. "I can’t see the Frontier Fiesta tents from where I park on the opposite side of the stadium. It took like 5 minutes to find a spot. It was good luck I guess."

Although some students complained about the lack of spots around the stadium, empty parking spots could be found nearby in the outlying lots.

"The satellite lot across from the Frenchy’s had spaces available the entire week," Director of Parking and Transportation Services Robert Browand said. "Granted, it’s a little further away from their classroom and it is going to take a little longer to get there, but the time they save by not having to drive around looking for their spot, they can use for riding the buses to get close to their building. Lot 4A, the gravel lot on the corner of Wheeler (Avenue) and Calhoun (Road), is also serviced by the shuttle bus."

Frontier Fiesta is one of UH’s Biggest traditions, Frontier Fiesta Director of Production Jay Jacoby said. The event was founded in 1941 and shut down in 1959 because attendance was too high at 100,000 visitors and had become too large to be controlled by the University, Jacoby said. The student-run festival was brought back in 1991 after a 32-year hiatus and was held where the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center currently stands.

Students who attended had different reactions to the event.

Psychology sophomore Tanya Patel attended Frontier Fiesta with her boyfriend as extra credit for his class.

"The time I was there people seemed to be enjoying themselves, like drinking and there were shows going around, I guess people doing talent shows," Patel said.

She said she didn’t notice parking was different during Frontier Fiesta.

"Isn’t there always a crunch for parking at UH?" she said.

Mechanical engineering senior Freddy Rodriguez said he didn’t notice any parking problems because he parks in a lot on the other side of campus.

Rodriguez said he thinks Frontier Fiesta is a good event for students to attend.

"I think it’s great," he said. "It gives UH school spirit. Unfortunately this year there was no big performance as in other years. Still, I think it’s a good event for school spirit."

After the completion of the Rec Center in 2000, the festival had to find another location, which was difficult because of the size of the event, Roberts said.

Faculty and staff parking were unaffected during and prior to Frontier Fiesta.

Frontier Fiesta organizers said all lots will be cleared by today.

Additional reporting by Bayan Raji

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