The Student Activities Board transformed the campus green to resemble the restaurant chain, The Rainforest Cafe, with fruit smoothies and plush animal life on Sept. 21.
After Nicole Membreno, a junior biology major and SAB event coordinator, arrived at a meet-and-greet for new and returning event coordinators wearing a Rainforest Cafe sweatshirt, she said the team got an idea to bring this dining experience to campus.
Membreno said she wants to both “maximize opportunities” for students to explore campus and have fun while they do it. She added that SAB worked alongside her to bring each element of the Rainforest Cafe franchise to students and faculty.
Students chose from plush rainforest animals and used artificial stuffing to fill the toys. After selecting the un-stuffed plushie of their choice, SAB members instructed students to transfer all their best qualities into a squishy star that would be placed inside the stuffed animal. SAB members also gave students birth certificates for their new plush animal to celebrate.
At the event, attendees were also given the chance to make fruit smoothies.
Claudia Marino, a freshman business administration major, said she liked the sense of community at the event.
“It makes it feel like the college experience,” Marino said. “I talk to my friends going to other colleges and they don’t have anything like this.”
Ricky Blanco, a sophomore communication major and transfer student, said the Rainforest Cafe was their first SAB event. Blanco said events like the cafe have the potential to increase campus connection.
“I feel like it really builds community, especially since I didn't feel connected at my previous school,” Blanco said.
Riley Wintonick, a freshman sociology major, said her experience at SAB’s puppy yoga event “encouraged me to continue showing up to SAB campus events like the Rainforest Cafe.”
The original Rainforest Cafe is a family-friendly chain committed to its tropical theme. There are a total of 16 locations in the United States, two of which are located in New Jersey; one in Edison, the other along the Atlantic City Boardwalk. The Rainforest Cafe’s decorations consist of trees growing upwards from the carpet and vines covering the ceiling while glimpses of light shine throughout the restaurant.
Rhyleigh Russell can be reached at email@example.com