UW-Madison commencement ceremony went on amid rain, road construction

UW-Madison commencement ceremony went on amid rain, road construction

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s class of 2018 and their friends and family members are getting ready for Saturday’s commencement ceremony amid some chilly, wet weather.

“It’s very bittersweet, I think,” said Emily Curtis, who was celebrating graduation with her family and her boyfriend and classmate, Danny Prager.

‘”I’m looking forward to the next step,” Prager said. “Just a lot of excitement.”

They’ll be stepping into a brave new world, which might be a cold and rainy one.

“I am a little nervous we’re going to be sitting in the rain for a good hour and half,” Curtis said. “That will be a little bit of a bummer.”

UW-Madison officials are keeping a close eye on the forecast as Saturday’s noon commencement ceremony approaches.

“We prepare for everything and hope for nothing,” University of Wisconsin Police Department special events Lt. Cherise Caradine said.

She said just like with a Badger football game, organizers are preparing for up to 50,000 guests.

“The rain definitely throws in a different element, just because it’s going to be going on outdoors and it’s going to be held rain or shine,” she said. “You can see my breath now, so dress for the weather.”

Caradine said only severe weather, such as lightning within an 8-mile radius, could impact the ceremony. In that case, the event can be delayed for up to two hours and then canceled. After that, there’s no rescheduling.

There are emergency plans in place in case of severe weather, but officials said that looks unlikely, and they’ve never had to cancel a commencement ceremony at Camp Randall in the past.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed for good weather,” spokesperson Meredith McGlone said. “We want to remind people it’s going to be be chilly, so dress warm. Umbrellas are not allowed in the stadium, so bring raincoats or ponchos, but be ready to be here with the Class of 2018. We’re going to have an awesome time.”

Guests should also expect the usual traffic that comes on graduation day, which may be impacted by Monroe Street construction nearby.

“Since it’s only one lane and inbound only, ” Caradine said. “There’s not this mass exodus like after a football game, so it’ll be slow getting here — just with the extra people — but getting out should be OK.”

But traffic and rainy weather aside, graduates are ready to step into the stadium.

“I’m taking an optimistic approach,” Prager said. “I’m also comparing it to some of the rainy football games we’ve been through. A lot of great memories in that stadium.”

“I would rather do the ceremony in the rain than not have it at all,” Curtis said. “I think it will still be good. Family and friends are what make an occasion special, so having them around is really what matters most.”

More information about Saturday’s ceremony can be found at this website.