EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - Many Blugolds have left the nest and are now getting the chance to see what Eau Claire has to offer.
Students from UW-Eau Claire were taking advantage of coupons, freebies and prizes Thursday night for the 8th annual "UW Meets EC." The event didn't happen last year due to COVID.
University officials said this is a great time for students to learn about employment opportunities, service learning opportunities or just learn where to have fun.
"It's exciting for us, but I know it's super exciting for the businesses downtown to be able to have students back on campus, seeing what they have to offer. We have a lot of small businesses downtown, so it's super helpful for the economy and for the students to get civically engaged in what is happening downtown," said Nicole Rindone, senior coordinator for events and marketing at UW-Eau Claire.
Rindone said events like this also help with retention rates because students who are invested both inside and outside the classroom are more likely to stay all four years.
The Local Store is one of many businesses welcoming students Thursday, and director Lindsey Quinnies said her favorite part is interacting with all the fresh faces.
"It's really fun to interact with the students. They all just got here, either just moved here or moved into their new spaces. They're starting school. They're just excited to kind of explore their new space, their new community, meet new people. So it's really fun to just talk with them and learn a little bit more about them," Quinnies said.
During Thursday's event at the Local Store, students could get 15 percent off all in-store merchandise with their student ID or shop their sidewalk sale for even better deals.
They could also get a free sticker with any purchase.
When students were done exploring downtown, they headed back to campus for "McIntyre Library After Dark."
At that event, they played laser tag, life-size Clue, mini golf and ate free pizza.