Minerpalooza dazzles viewers from home, Jon Pardi performs


Photo courtesy of UTEP.

Exodis Ward, Staff Reporter

Minerpalooza is a long-standing UTEP tradition that went completely virtual this year because of the pandemic, but the show still dazzled viewers through their screens.  

Minerpalooza kicks off every academic year at UTEP with live performances, but that wasn’t the case this year because of the pandemic. The show celebrated its 30th anniversary in a completely virtual format for the first time ever.  The show welcomed the new academic year by featuring online performances by country music star Jon Pardi, UTEP band and UTEP’s cheer and dance teams. 

KPRP radio host and UTEP alumna Monica Castillo hosted the event Friday evening, as it streamed through the Minerpalooza website. The event featured guest appearances by UTEP President Heather Wilson, the UTEP cheer and dance team, Paydirt Pete, and UTEP athletes. 

While Minerpalooza won’t look like it did a year ago, we still wanted to take time to celebrate our students. It gives us an opportunity to start the school year with thousands of community members,” Wilson said. “Although we’re not physically together this year, we’re going to take some time to connect online with student organizations and leaders who make this campus great.” 

Aside from being an entertaining event to celebrate the beginning of the academic year, Minerpalooza is also a fundraising opportunity for student organizations.  

The Student Organization Advancement Fund was created to financially assist UTEP organizations. The goal this year is to raise $10,000 

Any donations made will be distributed among UTEP organization growth and sustainability, philanthropic efforts, leadership, and professional development. The evening began with a total of $750 donated by 37 people. 

Viewers peeked into the homes of head cheer coach Bianca Marquez, Student Government Association President Jessica Martinez and past director of Community Relations Christian Corrales’ beginningofsemester celebrations 

The event featured appearances from UTEP alumni sharing their personal experiences at the university and favorite experiences on campus. 

“Going into my senior year I was a football player at UTEP, and my father was having a tough battle with cancer. Going into the last game of the year, faculty, staff and the boys asked to feature him in a story,” Drew Thomas, UTEP alumnus and graduate assistant said.They put him in the magazine, and I thought it spoke to the UTEP as an organization. It really made me feel the family environment, which is why I have no problem, ten years later being on a zoom call celebrating Minerpalooza.

The celebration continued with the UTEP band playing the university’s fight song as the UTEP Cheer and Dance team performed alongside. 

The first half of the show touched base on important topics regarding the future of the UTEP athletics. The first football game of the season was a  highlight of the event. Athletics director Jim Senter explained the changes football fans should expect. 

UTEP Sun Bowl will now be implementing clear bag policy. Attendees who wish to bring anything in, have to bring it in a bag that is clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and does not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12″ or they can use one of the clear UTEP bags sold around campus

Small clutches and Ziploc gallon sized bags are permitted too. The goal of this policy is to expedite entry, increase safety and limit physical contact. The purchase of game tickets will only be available through the mobile appand social distancing and face coverings are required at the Sun Bowl stadium. 

The show brought the news to viewers that the Miner Maniacs, UTEP’s pep squad is returning. 

“Over the years, you guys have made the environment, you brought the energy, and we need you to be loud and we want you to be there with the passion that you bring,” Rodney Terry, head men’s basketball coach said. 

For $15, students received a membership that includes unique UTEP swag, exclusive VIP access to games, giveaways and much more. 

The second half of the show featured, country music songwriter, and record producer Pardi. The performance was available for viewing through the CW channel. For fans of Pardi who could not get enough, an encore performance was accessible on the Minerpalooza webpage until midnight. 

The event helped raise $1,300 for the student organization fund. Donations can still be made; the donation period ends Friday, Sept. 11.   

Despite the woes of the pandemic, the Minerpalooza coordinators and presenters were determined to continue the tradition and bring entertainment to everyone’s screens. 

Keeping traditions alive is more important than ever and in the age of social distancing we can still remain united, Castillo said. 

Exodis Ward may be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @alexodislee.