For the first time Missouri Western State University hosted the Griff Up downtown event to welcome the class of 2023 to St. Joseph.

The event took place at Coleman Hawkins Park at Felix Street Square in order to get student acquainted with a new area.

There was music, games, face painting, free shirts and 16 different businesses offering special promotions for the night.

Students also had a chance to explore local businesses through a scavenger hunt across Downtown.

Mayor Bill McMurray and Western President Matt Wilson were at the event to meet incoming students.

“It’s so fun to engage with the students and see their excitement with classes starting on Monday,” Wilson said.

The event was apart of the freshmen Griffon Edge program that helps students get acclimated to college life.

“It’s been a long day for them because we kicked off the program with a pep rally early this morning,” Wilson said.

Christian Sarna is a second year mentor with Griffon Edge and thinks this event benefits many of the students.

“A lot of the students that aren’t from St. Joseph will never go Downtown because they don’t know it’s down here,” Sarna said. “It’s a great opportunity to branch out from campus.”

Griffon Edge lasts until Sunday with freshmen participating in other meet and greet events, community service and tours around campus.

President Matt Wilson is excited to start his first year as president and is looking forward to working with the Western faculty.

“Our faculty is truly committed to the student and making sure they get the best education possible,” Wilson said. “We want to put them in positions where they can get careers and impact our community.”

The event brought out a large crowd of students eager to explore downtown and kick off their college careers with classes starting on Monday.

Bailey Ketcham can be reached