The Boiler Bridge Bash – Welcome to #GreaterLaLa

Food, music, bike races, free stuff. Be there.

One of the underlying goals of the whole Good to Great plan is to tear down the invisible wall that keeps West Lafayette, specifically Purdue University students, from Lafayette. The truth that most of us townies know already is that Lafayette offers just as much if not more entertainment for people of all ages. Yet, for some reason when that massive influx of students comes to our community, Lafayette seems mostly ignored. The economic benefits of having this influx of students realize all Lafayette has to offer is not something to be scoffed at, and the Good to Great plan acknowledges that.

With that said, one of the committees formed from GtG is putting on a big event with cooperation from many community businesses, clubs, and non-profits to help bring students (specifically the 5000 some freshmen attending Boiler Gold Rush this week) to Lafayette. I took a moment to speak with one of the organizers, Mary Whitaker, about this exciting event, who is involved, and what to expect. Here is what you have to look forward to!


  1. What is Boiler Bridge Bash? 

BBB came about from the From Good to Great document.  Goal 8 of that document encourages creating a dynamic “Town and Gown” initiative that will enrich Purdue’s relationship with West Lafayette and will help students connect with the communities on both sides of the Wabash.  Students at Purdue are more than just students, they are ‘student residents’.  They are more than visitors, they are residents of Greater Lafayette (#greaterlala).  One way to help introduce and assimilate these brand new Purdue students is to throw a big welcome and introduction to #greaterlala.  The idea of using the bridge as the venue shows a connection between West Lafayette and Lafayette and introduces the students to the Village, Levee, Tapawingo Park, Pedestrian Bridge, Riehle Plaza and Downtown areas.

Boiler Bridge Bash is a big community welcome to Purdue’s incoming students.  There will be more than 50 organizations and businesses on the bridge ready to great them.  Students will have a chance to sign up to volunteer for community organizations, learn about local businesses, and learn more about what #greaterlala has to offer in activities and events.  In addition to businesses and organizations, there will be activities for the students to participate.  We want the students to walk away feeling like a resident of #greaterlala and that the community is happy they are here.


2.  Who is hosting the event?

Greater Lafayette Commerce is the organization behind the Community of Choice initiative.  A group of community members make up the BBB Committee which was formed from the Goal 8 Town and Gown Study Action Team.   The committee is made up of dedicated individuals that represent both Town and Gown and have put together a very large event in a short amount of time.  Committee members include:  Tonya Agnew (CityBus), Margaret Sass (Center of Instructional Excellence at Purdue), Kasi Jones (Student Success at Purdue), Nancy Montague (Office of International Students at Purdue), Ken McCammon (Friends of Downtown), Steve Bultinck (Friends of Downtown), Eric Beardmore (Purdue Student), Abe Parkison (Purdue Student), Erin Nelson (Greater Lafayette Commerce and Quality of Life), Dale Whittaker (Office of the Provost at Purdue), Bob Falk (Purdue Federal Credit Union), Chris Kulesza (Purdue Graduate Student Government), Michael Dick (Bicycle Lafayette), Aaron Madrid (Bicycle Lafayette), Christopher Dick (Friends of Downtown), Mary Whittaker (Community Volunteer).


3.  Who is sponsoring the event?

We have many great sponsors for BBB. They include:

  • Purdue Federal Credit Union
  • Purdue Alumni Association
  • Greater Lafayette Commerce
  • Faith West
  • University Book Store

Inkind Sponsors Include:

  • Bison
  • CityBus
  • WAZY Z96.5
  • Bruno’s
  • Madmen
  • City of West Lafayette and City of West Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department
  • City of Lafayette
  • Tippecanoe County
  • Center for Instruction Excellence at Purdue
  • Friends of Downtown
  • Bicycle Lafayette
  • Awards Unlimited

We are thankful for all of our sponsors and their contributions to BBB.


4.  Why is it important to get students off campus?

We want the students to feel like they are part of the #greaterlala community beyond the Purdue campus and that we welcome them to be a part of our community.  Getting the students down to the bridge and into Downtown early on will increase their boundaries and encourage them to become involved and become more aware of what our area has to offer.  As community members we will also grow from the students’ influences and involvements during their years at Purdue.  It will make for a richer and more dynamic community.


5.  What types of activities will be offered and who is BBB open to.

We are encouraging the incoming students to catch the trolley to get down to the Pedestrian Bridge or be part of a bicycle ride lead by Bicycle Lafayette.  We want the students to become comfortable using CityBus services to get around the area.  We also want the new students to be aware of riding their bicycles safely around the community.  In addition to several not for profit organizations and area businesses on the bridge we will have activities offered by community organizations.  There will be music by WAZY, bike polo on the West Lafayette Skating Rink with Bicycle Lafayette and Hard Court Bike Polo, corn hole in Tapawingo Park, public art projects along the bridge with Center for Instructional Excellence at Purdue that will later be displayed on the Purdue campus and community, trike races at Riehle Plaza with Friends of Downtown, and art projects at the Depot with The Drawing Board.  There will also be a scavenger hunt for students to locate places in Downtown and the Levee with a grand prize of free pizza for a year compliments of Bruno’s! Bison will be serving hot dogs and some of the businesses will have fun swag, coupons, and more.

The not for profit organizations will have information and sign up opportunities for students to volunteer and get involved.  Several community officials will welcome the students during a short program at 6:30 pm and Morgan Burke will welcome the students and invite them to participate in the football team’s Bridge Walk the Friday evening before each home game.

The BBB Committee is excited for Boiler Bridge Bash and have been overwhelmed with the response from the community.  We look to make this an annual welcome for each new Purdue incoming class and grow the event to include even more community members, organizations, and businesses.  We do encourage the community to come out and help us welcome the new class of Purdue students.  We want them to know #greaterlala is happy they are here!