Picnic Day 103 - April 22, 2017

Alumni, students and friends enjoy Picnic Day 2015.

Register for CAAA's two fun-filled days of events!

Friday, April 21
Saturday, April 22

Interested in volunteering for Picnic Day? Visit our website for more information.

2017 Picnic Day

Picnic Day by the numbers:

  • CAAA saw over 100 guests at our Alumni Wine Program Wine Tasting on Friday, April 21.
  • Over 350 guests attended our VIP Member Lounge.
  • 50 alumni, parents and friends joined CAAA and our Give Day colleagues as an entry at the Picnic Day Parade.
  • Nearly 2,000 guests attended our Authentic Aggies Zone at the Buehler Alumni Center.
  • CAAA had nearly 75 individuals participate in our first ever Aggie drone photo!

Picnic Day is one of UC Davis’ most revered traditions for alumni, students, families, staff, faculty and the greater community. Taking place on April 22, this year’s Picnic Day is themed “"Growing Together” to highlight how UC Davis has grown alongside the City of Davis, which will be turning 100 in 2017. Starting as Berkeley’s University Farm in 1908 and today standing proudly as one of the top ten public schools in the nation. In addition, with this year’s Picnic Day being on Earth Day, we wanted to highlight UC Davis’s strides towards sustainability. This family-friendly event is free for all to come and experience the richness of diversity and achievement at UC Davis in the areas of research, teaching, service and campus life. With more than 200 events taking place throughout campus, Picnic Day serves as the university’s annual Open House and is a great time for Aggie alumni and their friends and family to come back to campus to mark the 103rd celebration.

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Our volunteer leaders from around the world are planning Picnic Day events in their region. If you're not able to attend Picnic Day on campus we encourage you to join a Picnic Day event near you!

Austin, TX, Boston, MA ,Chicago, IL, Durham, NC, NYC, NY, Oakland, CA, Orange County, CA
San Diego, CA, San Francisco, CA, San Jose, CA, Seattle, WA, Yuma, AZ

International Locations - Hong Kong, London, Mexico City

Hatch Your Picnic Day Plan

In three decades, CAAA Executive Director Rich Engel ’90, Cred. ’91 has only missed one Picnic Day—but only because he was co-hosting the firstever New Orleans Picnic Day. Engel kicks off our alumni guide to planning the perfect Picnic Day with some of his favorite memories and personal tips.

Growing up in a rural community that was a long distance from my relatives made family reunions a very special occasion for me. The gathering of my brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins became a time for celebration and reflection. My first Picnic Day was in 1986 and my initial impression was that this was an extended family reunion, albeit with tens of thousands of my extended Aggie family. This will be my 29th year, and what has never changed is that Picnic Day is an event to bring the next generation of Aggies to and get kids excited about higher education and everything UC Davis offers the world.

I believe what is most important about Picnic Day, and what this year’s theme speaks to, is that this signature event is still about the Aggie family first. Picnic Day stayed strong through a period when other university tradition programs disappeared. When we experienced attendance challenges, particularly from 2007-09, this university made a commitment to re-focusing on our core, which is the Aggie family. That focus is what will keep this tradition going for the next 101 years.

Going to Picnic Day is a lot like visiting Disneyland. If you want to get the most out of it, you need a plan before you get there. There are so many things to see that you cannot expect to see them in all in one, two or three years. I still have yet to see many of the big ticket items, and I’ve been going for nearly three decades! If there’s one thing I’ve learned during that time, it’s to avoid falling into a set routine each year.

Plot Your Picnic Day Plan

One big lesson my family and I have learned over the years is that you really need to prioritize and map out your feature attractions beforehand:


For example, I would always position my family in front of Hart Hall to watch the parade so that we could sneak over to get in line for our chemistry show tickets and then return to watching the parade. If you’re sitting in the central quad, you can’t cross the parade route.

Explore the Outskirts

If you want to see events that are further from central campus, such as at the Equestrian Center or sports complexes, plan extra time to get out to those places.

Battle of the Bands

If you want a prime spot for Battle of the Bands, you’ll want to lay down your picnic blanket next to Spafford Lake by at least 1:30 p.m.

Zone Out

The CAAA Member VIP Zone returns to the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center, where you can enjoy free snacks, respite from the elements, and get goodies from our partners. It’s also a comfortable meet-up spot for groups. Just remember it will close at 3 p.m.

Parking & Getting Around

Unfortunately there's no secret parking lot for CAAA members, so the early bird rule applies again. If you do drive, write down your parking location or take a photo with your phone. Taking Amtrak is the best alternative, and the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center is just a 15-minute walk through the Arboretum from the station. While Aggies are famous for our bicycling, biking is a less-than-ideal mode of transportation on Picnic Day because navigating the crowds can be difficult and unsafe—there will be a lot of dogs, kids, and strollers to watch out for. Better to wear your most comfortable shoes and prepare for a lot of walking.

  • Rain: Old sneakers and galoshes are recommended, as is a second pair for backup.
  • Shine: Supportive sandals that fasten are better than flip-flops.
Picnic Day Breakfast

CAAA will no longer be hosting the Picnic Day Breakfast so we encourage you to join us at the parade!

Children 0-18

Bring portable diversions and snacks for waiting in line. Bring earplugs for little ones who might be overwhelmed by the noise level. Dress younger kids in bright colors. You’ll spot them faster if you’re separated. As an additional step, some parents choose to put their phone number on their kids with child safety temporary tattoos. Also take a photo of the kids that morning (in what they’ll be wearing) on your phone. If your children are younger, make an early trip to the Lost Children’s Booth at Hoagland Hall so they will know where to go, and to take advantage of the child identification system. If your kids are older, both the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center and Vanderhoef Quad are good places to designate as a meet-up spot. Typically, when taking kids younger than 9 years old, it’s best to wrap up the day by noon. The ARC Pavilion and Peter Rock Hall (formerly known as Chem 194) are not stroller-friendly. If you plan to attend events in either location, you’ll need to park or lock your stroller nearby. After parking your stroller, remember to remove anything valuable. Bring something to cover the seat, to protect it from getting too hot under the sun.

Going as a Group

Agree as a group to a manageable number of “mustdo” activities, so no one is disappointed by missing their favorite attraction.

See You There

Please visit our website and Facebook page for updates and event details. You can also pre-order this year’s Picnic Day shirt. I look forward to seeing you in the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center or on Vanderhoef Quad, and wish every member of the Aggie family a wonderful 101st Picnic Day.

Picnic Day Tips from Fellow Aggies

For Young Alumni

Q&A with Charlie Colato '12

Charlie with his cousin Oscar, aunt Celina and cousin Katie at the 2011 Picnic DayWhat do you love best about Picnic Day?

  • What I love best about Picnic Day is that it serves as a homecoming for the UC Davis community. Sure, we have a homecoming in the fall with Pajamarino and what not; but, to me, Picnic Day is the real homecoming. Alumni young and old return to campus and departments showcase the best of what they have to offer. It really doesn't get any better than that.

What is it about Picnic Day that embodies the Aggie spirit?

  • When I think of the Aggie spirit I think of the student-led efforts on campus. Whether it's the CoHo, Unitrans or the ASUCD Pantry, these are organizations that exist to serve the Aggie community and all of them are student-led. Picnic Day celebrates the initiative of Aggies throughout campus, which itself is the largest student-run event in the country.

What’s your #1 Picnic Day tip for alumni in the same phase of life as you?

  • If I could share a Picnic Day tip with alums in the same phase of life as me it would be to discover a new place on campus (especially the events CAAA puts on for the day). UC Davis is an amazing place and I would venture to guess that most of it goes undiscovered during our times as students. I took a tour of the animal hospital last summer and I was amazed by the array of services the hospital offers. And it seems like every year I visit there's something new like the new dorms in Tercero or the Food Science building on the southern end of campus.

What was your first Picnic Day like and how do you think or hope this year will be different?

  • My first Picnic Day was in 2009. My sister was a sophomore at UC Davis and decided to throw me a birthday party, which so happened to coincide with Picnic Day. When we stepped on the UC Davis campus for Picnic Day I was truly amazed by the magnitude of the event. It was after my Picnic Day experience that I decided to transfer to UC Davis instead of UC Santa Cruz or UC Santa Barbara. Who knew that two years after attending the event, which ultimately led me to UC Davis, that I would be its Chair of the Board of Directors? Not me. I think that speaks loudly of the opportunities you can find at UC Davis even if you're a transfer student.
  • My hope for 2015's Picnic Day is that the Board of Directors puts on an event they can be proud of. I know that the board of 2011 did just that. They were able to inject new ideas into Picnic Day while preserving the overall tradition of the event. I think this is important because you don't want to make Picnic Day into some kind of perpetual, perfunctory event. I also hope that the message of 2011's Picnic Day hasn't faded away because we were pretty close to losing the event altogether. Hopefully Aggies and the UC Davis community can celebrate responsibly in a manner where we continue to have Picnic Day serve as the campus' marquee event of the year.
For a Family with Young Kids

Q&A with J.B. '91 and Vicky '95, MS '01 Hay

Hay kids with GunrockWhat do you love best about Picnic Day?

  • Four-year-old Carroll Ann: Gunrock
  • First-grader Charles: The parade
  • Third-grader Peter: The parade and the climbing wall in the alumni zone
  • Vicky: The family time
  • J.B: Visiting the campus and running into old classmates and friends

What is it about Picnic Day that embodies the Aggie spirit?

  • The livestock, horse and agronomy displays—the displays that exhibit the university’s agricultural roots. We think the farm and ranch displays ARE Picnic Day.

What is your #1 Picnic Day tip for alumni in the same phase of life as you?

  • Get a place to stay as close to campus as possible so you don't have far to go if the kids need to take a rest or nap. If you can, find a pool so the kids can cool off at the end of a long hot Picnic Day.

What was your first Picnic Day like and hope this year will be different?

  • J.B: My father went to UC Davis (Class of ’61) and he took me when I was in grade school. My favorite Picnic Day is easy to remember—it was in 2000, when Rich Engel introduced me to Vicky at the Alpha Gamma Rho BBQ. As a student I always enjoyed driving antique farm equipment in the parade, for the Antique Mechanics Club. Vicky first went to Picnic Day when she was an undergrad. She remembers getting up at zero dark thirty to gather animals for the petting zoo. A couple years ago we made a resolution to see something different every year. We noticed that we were traveling the same circuit on campus each Picnic Day. After going to 25-plus Picnic Days it is a good idea to add some variety to what you see.
For a Family with Older Kids

Q&A with Alison '88 and Andrew '87 Broaddus

Broaddus kids with Engel kidsWhat do you love best about Picnic Day?

  • Alison: It’s a time to reconnect with campus and see the energy that exists between the students, the Davis community and alumni. It’s a time to truly embrace our Aggie Pride!
  • Andy: The chance to see the combination of Aggie Pride and UC Davis Traditions, and to see the new aspects of UC Davis. My favorite event is still the sheep dog trials.

What is it about Picnic Day that embodies the Aggie spirit?

  • Alison: The students spearhead, organize, orchestrate, and pull off an amazing event. To me, that’s what it’s all about—the students! It’s also fabulous to see so many alumni and friends of UC Davis return to campus. I hope the current students (outside of those involved with the planning of the event) understand the long-time importance of the day and will return to campus when they have families as well!
  • Andy: The fact that it is student-run and that it serves as true homecoming, which is focused on the school and not on sports.

What is your #1 Picnic Day tip for alumni in the same phase of life as you?

  • Alison: I’d say enjoy the time with your kids. As parents of teens, it’s hard to always find the time to embrace the special moments. So I’d say, cherish the memories, revisit the places that were important when everyone was young, love the time together, retell the same old stories, but also make a new memory or two. Bottom line, have fun together! Note to younger parents—start early in the day and take a break when the kids get tired!
  • Andy: Be flexible, listen for what they really like, and use it as a chance to see college students in their element.

What was your first Picnic Day like and how do you think or hope this year will be different?

  • Alison: It was probably Picnic Day 1986. I transferred to UC Davis as a junior in 1985. I remember being in awe of all the people at my first Picnic Day. This year, I hope will be full of fun as it’s the last one before James (now a senior) leaves for college!
  • Andy: It was 1983. My primary memory was working late after an AGR Dinner to finish the float the night before, and then riding on the float. I would love to see more student-group-built floats.
For Older Alumni

Q&A with Tom '68, JD '75 and Meg '68 Stallard

Tom and Meg StallardWhat do you love best about Picnic Day?

  • In terms of what I love best about Picnic Day, there is a lot of competition for this response, but one of our favorite Picnic Days was when we selected Dr. Chet McCorkle, then Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, as our Parade Marshal. The next year, Chet and his former wife hosted our wedding reception in their backyard on Oeste Drive.

What is it about Picnic Day that embodies the Aggie Spirit?

  • Picnic Day brings out the best in Aggie spirit by emphasizing the friendliness of the campus. The welcome mat is out for all—students, faculty, staff, alums, Aggie families, and the larger California community. It also emphasizes the community spirit of the university since many pitch in to make this major undertaking happen.

What is your #1 Picnic Day tip for alumni in the same phase of life as you?

  • For alumni who go back as far back as we do—the late 60s—it is best to arrive for the Picnic Day breakfast. It is a super charger for getting in the Aggie spirit, especially when the Cal Aggie Marching Band barges in and plays those standards that get our pulses racing!

What was your first Picnic Day like and how do you think or hope this year will be different?

  • Tom: My first Picnic Day was in 1962 when I was a sophomore in high school. I had been encouraged to apply to UC Davis by my high school biology teacher, Dr. Gordon T. Simmons, DVM ’53. That one day was all it took to hook me. I loved everything I saw. I could not wish anything more for this or any subsequent Picnic Day—that these wonderful events will continue to showcase the campus in ways that attract the youth of today.