outside Deja Brew on Faux Friday

Deja Brew was among the nearly 20 restaurants visited by Lehigh students on Faux Friday.

Lehigh Students Enjoy South Side Businesses During Faux Friday

Hundreds of first-year students explored restaurants and the Greenway during the 10th year anniversary event.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

Photography by

Christa Neu

Hundreds of first-year Lehigh students fanned out across South Side Bethlehem Friday, Aug. 25, to enjoy dinner and explore the neighborhood, as part of the annual Faux Friday experience.

Hosted by the Office of the First-Year Experience at Lehigh, the event, which aims to introduce the incoming class to the neighborhood, marked its 10th anniversary. Nearly 20 restaurants participated, with students visiting the restaurants of their choice in two waves over four hours.

“It’s an opportunity for students to get to know the South Side…get them to see, this is a great place, walkable,” said Adrienne McNeil, assistant vice president for community and regional affairs at Lehigh.

In addition to enjoying meals, beverages and ice cream, students also were able to join in games on the Greenway, which was sponsored by the SouthSide Arts District.

“It's wonderful to get the students to be familiar with what is off campus, getting them to see what’s available on Third and Fourth streets as well as introducing them to the Greenway space,” said Erin Zebertavage, SouthSide Arts District’s Downtown Manager. “The Greenway is a great place to take a walk, to take a run, to take a bike ride. Just having the students have awareness of what exists just the block off of campus … is great for the community.”

Stefanie Burke, assistant dean and director of First-Year Experience, said the students enjoy getting to eat somewhere new and always comment that they didn't realize how much there was downtown and how walkable it is.

"We want students to recognize Lehigh and South Bethlehem as their new home and encourage them to take advantage of the downtown area," she said.

Last year the office added "Reading is cLUtch" to the event, a collaboration with the Community Service Office. Students were asked to bring a new or gently used copy of a childhood favorite book to donate to the kids in South Bethlehem and to write an inspiring note inside the cover.

"We hope that as they continue to explore the area that they get to know South Bethlehem, the residents and remember to be good neighbors," she said.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

Photography by

Christa Neu

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