[ribbon cutting]
Unmasking the Mall
Students turn out in force for lively Plaza de San Diego dedication
by Kelly Knufken

A crackle of excitement filled the air at a party celebrating the opening of the Plaza de San Diego mall in the heart of the USD campus on Oct. 7. And why not? An anonymous donor ponied up $50,000 for a costume contest and another $100,000 earmarked for students who could win just by registering in advance, showing up and waiting to hear their name.

The crowd — made up of a few thousand students and several hundred faculty and staff — was entertained in between prize drawings by Orange County rockers She Wants Revenge (whose music has been featured on the Fox TV show “The O.C.”), local cover band ‘80z AllStars and Kid Classic, which features USD students.

Student creativity was in full force. The buzz was strong on Andrew Woodbury’s costume: The Immaculata replicated via cardboard box, complete with stained glass window and a dome teetering atop Woodbury’s head. No one was surprised that at the end of the night he was one of 10 costume finalists selected to win $500. Additionally, he and others in USD-themed costumes were among those winning $200 “instant” prizes from judges wandering through the crowd. Vista Editor in Chief Brooke McSpadden wore a gown made from the student newspaper. Erin Weesner came as Mother Rosalie Hill, accompanied by boyfriend Casey McKinley as Bishop Charles Francis Buddy. A couple of girls dressed as public safety officers handed out citations for various “infractions.”

Although much merriment was had with crazy costumes — not to mention unlimited funnel cakes, hot dogs, kettle corn, pretzels and ice cream — the main attraction was the awarding of $1,000 prizes to 100 students. And in case you were wondering what the $1,000 winners planned to buy with their easy-earned grand, a survey of the lucky ones was revealing:

“I’m definitely saving it and buying groceries. Maybe I’ll buy myself a new skirt if I’m feeling adventurous.”
— Monica Escobar ‘08

“I’m going to tithe 10 percent to my church, The Rock. I’ll also buy something little, and the rest will go toward school.”
— Jessica Thomas ’08

“I’m going to put it in savings. I’ve actually been a little worried about paying for my tuition next semester, so this will really help.”
— Erika Cruz ‘09

“I’ll probably buy gas, take friends out and just cruise the rest of the semester and not have to worry about money.”
— Bryan Carpenter ‘07

“I have no idea. Maybe I’ll go shopping. No, I’ll probably save it.”
— Elizabeth King ‘08

“I’m going to give it to my church. We just moved, and we need money, man.”
— Marco Contreras ‘07

“I’m going to pay parking tickets.”
— Kenny Stivers ’08

“Probably food and rent.”
— Damien Rutten ‘06

“I have lots of bills. I’m pretty much living on the bare minimum, so this helps a lot. It’s nice; I can relax a little more. I’ll try to save some. It’s definitely a generous thing for the donor to do.”
— Viviane Pourazary, first-year law student