The retro fad of cramming as many people as possible into a Volkswagen Beetle was revived at IUP last fall when the Volkswagen of America Inc. Major Motion Picture Show rolled onto campus. The tour travels to universities in the U.S. and Canada, offering food, activities, prizes, and a movie to students, while educating them on the VW brand.
Marisa Cornego, a dealer coordinator working on the tour, described it as a “good event for students to learn about certified, pre-owned vehicles.” Many students who checked out the event were not put off by its promotional nature. Sophomore nursing majors Alison Blososky of Ebensburg, Kristen Landry of Westfield, and Carmen Morehead of Lewistown were among them.
“It's really cool because everything is free,” Landry commented. “You don't have to do anything... It definitely attracts people.”
The activities would have been hard to miss. The lawn near Keith Hall was transformed into a mini-marketing carnival. Giant speakers pumped music into the crowd. The Game Garage featured VW-themed contests and prizes. The Snack Shack gave away pizza, popcorn, and soft drinks. Guests were able to pose for photos in a Beetle convertible. Others took turns climbing a 25-foot-high inflatable rock-climbing wall.
Local Volkswagen dealers were on hand to answer questions about topics such as financing, while company representatives were there to talk about performance. Students could even take a test drive. Five VW vehicles were on the premises. One of them, a red GTI, was the grand-prize of the drawing. Students could sign up to win a two-year lease on the car. There would be one winner from all the students who entered during the course of the tour.
All Major Motion Picture Show staffers wore pale blue work uniform shirts with their first names embroidered on a patch above the VW slogan “Drivers wanted.” A semi-tractor trailer painted with a twilight drive-in scene was parked at the cul-de-sac of Pratt Drive. With its own bleachers, the trailer was a portable theater where students watched Pirates of the Caribbean, the culmination of the event.
IUP set an attendance record of 311 students for the evening movie, according to a spokesperson. The university was the fifth stop of the fall tour period, Cornego said. This is the sixth consecutive year for the tour, which visits twelve universities in the U.S. and Canada during the fall and spring semesters. Approximately 1,900 students attended the event at IUP, the spokesperson reported.
IUP was selected as a tour stop based on enrollment, its ranking as one of the top five schools in the Pittsburgh market, and the fact that the date coincided with Homecoming, the spokesperson said.
And how did today's IUP students pack up compared with those of yesteryear? They got twenty-four people into the Beetle.