The Beach in September 2006...pre-turf, with old Gilbert!Wow, did this chapter need some updating since the original 2007 print incarnation of Glory Days at Delaware. Of course, the “R.I.P.” part of this chapter title doesn’t really mean the general area of Harrington Beach is gone…but the patchy grass and sand Beach that generations of Blue Hens knew is absolutely gone.
Let’s back up. When I first toured UD in the very early ‘90s, the dude showing us around said that, in the spring, that area of campus becomes, “…like a beach,” because of all the bikinis out there…but at that point I didn't realize "The Beach" was its unofficial / official name.
My best guess was that it was a “tail wagging the dog” sort of thing; the intention was for that area to be a nice carpet of natural grass like the Mall, but it got so much use and so torn up, that UD started to bow to the students’ seaside nickname, “Yeah, okay...it's the Beach.”
But it’s not like they hadn’t tried to grow grass there. UD resodded it during the '85 - '86 school year, which didn’t hold up. Then they really tried again in 1998; the senior class gift moolah was applied to another round of resodding, improving the underground irrigation system, and all that stuff. IT JUST DIDN’T WORK. Hey, there was simply too much rain, snow, foot traffic, and good ole’ fashioned college fun on the Beach in any given year, that the grass has no chance…
…that’s why it was the opinion of many to concede defeat. That’s right, kill any of the remaining grass, and truck in MORE sand. And maybe some boardwalk action, which would’ve been pretty cool.
But the decision was made to go in the other direction, and just turf over the Beach in 2008, with the same stuff that was being used on Laird Campus as part of the new Independence Complex. The thing is, on the Beach the turf just looks…awkward. Especially with the incredibly obvious white borders, which separate the turf from the remnants of what had been. Real Harrington Beach, R.I.P.!
“The rain and snow storms equaled slip 'n' slide competitions on East Campus…on top of trays from the dining hall! We were covered in mud, and lots of other things that were probably only treatable by the strongest antibiotics -- no wonder why we were too sick to go to class for the next week! I miss life at Delaware!”
- Kimberly G, UD '96
“September 1999. It hit Newark worse than the (real Delaware) beaches. I just remember playing football in the rain on the Beach, sliding in the mud, and everyone having muddy wet clothes and shoes all up and down the hallways. I couldn't even walk from Gilbert to the Russell dining hall without being totally drenched. It was so much fun! I think people lost their power as well. It was a great way to celebrate my friend’s birthday. No school!”
- Kris V, UD '02
“I can say that I was part of the reason that the Beach had no grass. It was during the hurricane in 2003, and we had mud sliding and football and all that good stuff. That place was like a landmark for its lack of grass and it should’ve stayed that way despite the only ‘beach’ part being the volleyball courts.”
- Jim B, UD '05
“By far, the best thing I ever did on the Beach was jump the curb in front of Thompson, drive past the ATM machine outside of Perkins, and spin donuts with my car in the middle of the night.”
- Kiwi, UD '97
“How about that time they had an MTV event on the Beach, in the Spring of 2000? Our Lady Peace among other bands performed with the big name being Run DMC. Prior to their performance, their crew threw Red Bulls to the crowd to get everyone warmed up. This was before Red Bull was found everywhere. Actually is was unheard of, in the USA. Long story short, after waiting about an hour, they never showed up. The excited, pumped crowd almost turned into a complete riot.”
- Anonymous, UD '02
“When I was at UD, I don't remember the Beach being that beachy. Yeah, it had some bald spots and yeah we called it the ‘Beach,’ but we used to go play Frisbee football out there all the time and I just seem to remember it being a lot more grass than sand. I also remember during the Greek Olympics one of the events was to push a VW Bug around a course on the Beach. Crazy days.”
- Eric D, Attended UD sometime in the '80s!
“UD should have let the grass on the Beach just die. We have plenty of green areas for students to use, like the Mall. I lived in Harry C and Gilbert E and loved having the Beach as our place to lounge or play football, frisbee, and volleyball. Personally I prefer the Beach to the Mall.”
- Greg M, UD '07
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