DURHAM — Nothing but blue skies smiling at 2,800 University of New Hampshire graduates during commencement yesterday on the plaza outside the Whittemore Center.
At least 10,000 people, most of them friends and relatives of the graduates, packed the grounds and occupied hillside perches surrounding the venue. Beach balls danced to "Pomp and Circumstance," as graduates clad in caps and gowns stopped traffic crossing Main Street.
Bubbles filled the air, while white and blue balloons floated into the cloudless sky. Relatives and friends flanked the entrance pathway snapping photos from their cell phones and shouting words of congratulations to the graduates.
Big man on campus was the UNH Wildcat, as graduates and their families took turns posing for photos in front of the statue. A cap with tassle regularly adorned the cat's head.
Freshman Sarah Figgins, selling bouquets nearby for a community service benefit, said there were lines by the statue from 7 o'clock until start of graduation three hours later.
"People are really excited. They've been putting their caps on the cat," Figgins said.
Nicholas Pothier of Derry admitted to the excitement.
"I'm a little scared, a little nervous. It's been a fast four years," Pothier said.
The music major was looking forward to participating in a summer opera program in Philadelphia.
"I love UNH. I'm not ready for the real world," Adrienne Allicon, a psychology major from Derry, said. Her friend Samantha Hickey of Derry is planning to pursue a master's degree at Rivier College.
"This went by really fast, but it was worth it. I enjoyed every minute," Hickey said.
"It's really exciting to be able to do this," Corey Foden, a psychology major from Plaistow, said. Foden is looking for a job in the Boston area.
"This is a new chapter in my life," Foden said.