Back in the saddle

What students missed over the summer and what to look forward to in the coming weeks


Welcome back, Spartans! I hope you’ve had a relaxing and fun-filled summer. Now that the school year is ramping up, East Lansing is ready to greet you with plenty of fun events, both at Michigan State University and in the community beyond. Before we get to that, however, let’s look at some updates on the city’s landscape.


Businesses that have come and gone

Beyond traffic-stopping construction that persisted throughout the summer, not much has changed in East Lansing, but there are a few businesses that have closed and a few more that have popped up.

A new full-service MSUFCU branch opened on Abbot Road, replacing the previous branch on Grand River Avenue. The new branch features sit-down desks rather than a traditional teller line.

Pita Way, a Mediterranean fast-casual chain, opened underneath the Hub apartments on Grand River Avenue, offering build-your-own pita sandwiches, quesadillas and bowls. For a full look at the menu, stop in or visit

Additionally, the Jolly Pumpkin plans to build a new bourbon, whiskey and beer bar called Mash, which will be connected to the restaurant in a 4,755-square-foot space at 212 Albert Avenue. Keep your eyes peeled for updates.

PappaRoti, a coffee shop and bakery on Trowbridge Road, closed its doors this summer, as did Champps Kitchen + Bar in the Eastwood Towne Center and Tannin on East Michigan Avenue. Furthermore, the Five Guys on Grand River Avenue is temporarily closed for remodeling, but it’s expected to reopen later this month. A sign on the door says the store will try to have someone on site 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday for deliveries.


Fall Welcome events

While some schools offer welcome weeks to kick off the semester, MSU has much more in store for Spartans, with events running through Sept. 7. For a full list, visit

The fun begins with a Spartan Game Night 9 p.m. to midnight Wednesday (Aug. 23) at the International Center, featuring a chance to win prizes by participating in bingo and other games.

Thursday (Aug. 24) at 8:30 a.m., the Center for Community Engaged Learning is offering the chance to participate in a service project at the Breslin Center, with free T-shirts awarded to the first 500 attendees. Participants will also learn how to prepare for the upcoming elections in November.

Later in the day, visit the Career Services Network Fun Fair from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Student Services Building for A&W root beer floats, Dr. Pepper flavor tastings, giveaways, chances to learn about campus employment, help with starting your post-college job search and more.

But that’s not all! Head to either IM East or IM West from 7 to 10 p.m. for a Welcome Carnival, featuring inflatables, games and more. Then, from 10 p.m. to midnight, enjoy a comedy show and talent showcase at the Wharton Center.

The Wharton Center Student Marketing Organization is hosting a free concert in front of the building 2 p.m. Friday (Aug. 25), with ice cream, snacks, games and more. There’s also plenty more to enjoy later in the day, including Zoom trivia from 8 to 9 p.m., crafting activities and chances to view the exhibitions at the Broad Art Museum from 8 to 10 p.m., an outer space extravaganza at Abrams Planetarium from 8 to 10 p.m., skating at Munn Ice Arena from 9 p.m. to midnight, line dancing at the Spartan statue from 10 p.m. to midnight and a Spartan Nation Late Night at the Main Library from 10 p.m. to midnight, featuring trivia, esports and more.

Head to the MSU Union 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 26) for UFest, featuring live music, outdoor activities, crafts, free food and giveaways. Later, downtown East Lansing will be filled with fun events from 6 to 11 p.m., including live music and games such as inflatable jousting and knockerball at Valley Court Park, meet-and-greets with Zeke the Wonderdog and Sparty at Fountain Square, succulent giveaways at the Marriott Plaza, a hot-dog-eating contest at University Weiner, a scavenger hunt around the downtown area and booths from a variety of East Lansing businesses lining the streets.

Sparticipation runs 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 27) at the IM East Field, featuring a culinary food fair; a student involvement fair; a student organization showcase with demonstrations, performances and announcements; live music by local bands; and more.

Patty PerShayla, a Grand Rapids-based singer-songwriter, will perform at the Wharton Center’s welcome event 5 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 29), which also offers an opening performance by the MSU Accafellas, ice cream, snacks and games.

Visit the MSU Union at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 31 for FEMfest, featuring spoken-word performances, live music and visual art displays, all celebrating feminism in the arts. There will be free shirts, merchandise and snacks while supplies last.

Finally, Fall Welcome wraps up with Spartan Remix from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 7 at Munn Field. The event, which celebrates multicultural communities on campus, features live performances, an art contest, booths from multicultural student organizations and more.


More upcoming events

Beyond MSU’s festivities, other local businesses and hangout spots are ready to welcome students back with a variety of activities.

East Lansing’s summer Moonlight Film Festival series wraps up with a showing of “Remember the Titans” 9 p.m. Thursday (Aug. 24) at Valley Court Park. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and snacks to munch on.

The Junction is hosting a Welcome Week Party 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday (Aug. 25), featuring indoor and outdoor stages with performances by local bands and DJs, food trucks, inflatables, vendors and a special DJ set by headliner Cheyenne Giles. For more information, visit

The Broad Art Museum is hosting back-to-school events 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 26) and Sunday (Aug. 27) where students can screen print custom-designed tote bags and check out the exhibitions they’ve missed over the summer. For a look into one of the exhibitions, “Shouldn’t You Be Working? 100 Years of Working from Home,” see page 16.

The Broad is also holding a Fall Opening Party celebrating its four new exhibitions from 6 to 10 p.m. Sept. 8. Attendees can explore the museum while enjoying tailgate-themed food and drinks, music from the Spartan Alumni Marching Band and Impact 89 FM, photos with Sparty, screen printing, glow painting, button making and more.


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