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Despite the long trek from main campus to NW35, turnout for last Monday’s fall Community Picnic was far greater than organizers had anticipated, said Gayle M. Gallagher, senior director of Institute events.

Over 4,500 students and faculty members gathered at the courtyard of the Ashdown graduate dormitory to tour the new dorm and to welcome the new Dean for Student Life, Costantino “Chris” Colombo.

“Turnout was wonderful,” said Ashdown housemaster Ann Orlando. “It was a great day and a lovely event.”

Last year’s picnics were held in Killian Court and hosted around 3,000–4,000 people. Because NW35 is located much farther from main campus, direct shuttles to and from the student center were provided. Still, organizers were afraid as few as 2,500 would show up this year.

They were pleasantly surprised when the opposite happened. “It was a great mix of the community, a lot of faculty,” said Gallagher, who planned the event.

Gallagher declined to comment on the cost of the picnic, though according to UA President Noah S. Jessop ’09, it stayed within budget.

President Susan Hockfield, Dean for Graduate Education Steven R. Lerman ’72, and Ashdown housemaster Terry Orlando gave brief remarks.

Hosted by the Office of the President, the Community Picnics were started by President Hockfield last year to mark the beginning and end of the academic year at MIT. One picnic took place last fall and one this spring.

Monday was bright and sunny, and there were balloons and live music. “Everybody seemed to have a good time,” said Cissy Giannino, the Ashdown desk manager.