Matador Day, Osceola Style

What does Matador Day mean to you? Free food? Carnival games?

At Osceola Campus, the 2011 Matador Day celebration was a chance to celebrate school spirit — and indulge in some goofy fun and games.

Matador Day — which started out in 1968 as Matador Week, with five days of activities including dress-up day, field day and “sweatshirt day”  — is a college-wide celebration of student spirit. And though every campus celebrates the day in different ways, the point of the celebration is the same: for students to get involved in campus life and become part of the Valencia community.

At Osceola Campus, where more than 100 students gathered on the green in front of the campus clock tower, students played games ranging from air hockey to “human foosball.”

“The best part of Matador Day is the interaction,” said Javier Grisales, 18, of Kissimmee. “Everybody’s getting involved. You can see the school spirit. Everybody’s waving those red spirit sticks.”

Although there were plenty of games, from putt putt golf to a giant game of Jenga, it was the more bizarre and  challenging games that drew the greatest number of participants.  Grisales, for instance, and other students lined up for a chance on the inflatable “bungee run,” in which they attached a bungee cord to themselves, then raced to see how far they could run before getting yanked back by the bungee.

Meanwhile, in the center of the green, dozens of students waited for a chance to ride a mechanical bull set up inside an inflatable pool — so that riders who got bucked had a soft landing. Students used a variety of techniques to stay atop the bull, but the most effective seemed to be hugging the bull’s neck and holding on for dear life.

“I saw other people do it that way,” said 18-year-old Valencia student Patrick Rosario, ” so I decided to try it. The other people who held onto the neck stayed on about 50 seconds. But people who did it the normal way lasted only 10 seconds.”

“I think I lasted about six seconds,” said Iris Peralta.  “I may try it again, though.”

Shaunita Forrester, 18, also stepped into the ring to try bull-riding. “I always wanted to ride the mechanical bull at Old Town (in Kissimmee), but I didn’t want to pay to do it,” she said. “This was free, so I finally got to try it.” It turns out, she said, that riding a bull — especially with little or no handle to hold onto — is harder than it looks.

Nearby, a group of students played “human foosball”  inside what appeared to be a large, inflatable pool equipped with goals at each end. The players wore belts that attached them to ropes strung horizontally across the foosball table — and tried to kick a soccer ball into the opposing side’s goal.

“We always have a lot of outdoor activities for the students,” said Deanne Abrams, student development coordinator at the Osceola Campus. “What we envisioned this year was a big tailgate party. And they seemed to love it.”