Although the Roth Regatta is one of Stony Brook University’s most long-standing and popular traditions, the Undergraduate Student Government added a new aspect to this year’s event. Students have been constructing boats and racing across the Roth Pond since 1989, but this year’s 26th annual regatta featured a halftime show.
The Stony Brook community flocked to Roth Pond on Friday, May 1 to watch as friends and colleagues raced across the pond on man-made crafts. The halftime show began after noon and featured a number of performances from various students and campus clubs.
Students who were interested in participating were required to send in a video of their talent. Adrienne Esposito, a linguistics and economics double major, was elated at her acceptance.
“It’s such a huge honor. When I sent the video in, I wasn’t really thinking they would actually let me perform. When I read the email I started screaming,” Esposito said.
Esposito sang “Rumor Has It” by Adele while accompanied by a friend playing the guitar. This was her first experience singing in front of a large crowd.
“I’m really excited,” Esposito said. “I feel like no matter how it goes, afterwards I’m going to think that it’s the most surreal experience I’ve ever had. I’m excited for the adrenaline that singing in front of such a large crowd gives me,” she added.
A large crowd was in attendance for the show and the regatta.
Cassandra Elle Santiago, who sang Andy Grammar’s song “Keep Your Head Up,” sought to help her peers get through the stressful end-of-the-semester blues period.
“Everybody is probably really stressed out so this is a good way to relieve stress,” Santiago said.
“The song choice I chose is in light of finals, I want everyone to be comfortable and have a good time and to know everything will be fine,” she added.
As Santiago aimed to relieve stress, fellow halftime performer Joel Polanco spread positivity through his performance. Polanco is a hip hop and soul musician who sang two songs he wrote himself, entitled “Rise” and “Just Bring It Back.” Polanco is a sophomore business major from Harlem who uses his music to send powerful messages to listeners.
“Being able to overcome anything in your way and never give up is my message. I want to show people that you can do it no matter what, no matter where you’re from and no matter the mistakes you’ve made, you can overcome it,” Polanco said.
This was also Polanco’s first music performance, for which he was humbled and excited.
“This is an opportunity to spread the love. It’s all about unity and harmony. Unity is what brings us together; harmony is what keeps us together,” Polanco said.
The Stony Brook community got another chance to listen to Justin Starling. Starling is comfortable rapping his original music to crowds. He opened Brookfest the past two years, but was excited for this new experience.
“It means a lot that I can be so involved in the campus. It’s a great opportunity to perform and share my work with the school,” Starling said.
Starling sang two songs from two of his own different mixtapes. The first was titled “Say No More,” and the second song was an unreleased track. Although his mixtape came out in April, Starling still finds difficulties in gaining listeners.
“Actually getting people to listen is the hardest part. There are so many people out here making music. They don’t want to listen to you until you’re already famous, so that’s the hardest part,” Starling said.
Although Starling wants to make a career out of his music, on Friday, he was focused on having fun.
“I’m excited to see the boats, to see who crashes in the water and also excited for the show. Roth Regatta is always fun so I know its going to be a good time,” he said.
The fifth individual performer was Vincent Metas, an acoustic songwriter. Metas has been playing the guitar for more than seven years and writing his own lyrics for about five years.
Metas, another talented Stony Brook musician, sang a song he wrote himself.
“It’s a great experience and a great opportunity. I like any opportunity to share music with other people. It means something to me to that I can have a community aspect to what I do musically and artistically,” Metas said.
In addition, clubs also performed during the halftime show. The Stony Brook Pipettes, Stony Brook High C’s and Stony Brook Bhangra joined the individual performers at this year’s regatta.
Although the performers were all excited to share their talents and music, in the end, they were looking forward to an eventful day that upholds the traditions of the Roth Regatta.
“I’m excited to see the boats, people splashing in the water and excited to perform and spread positivity.” Polanco said. “I’m humbled and excited to perform,” he added.