Hundreds will gather Monday night for a Toy Story-themed party in Boulder, complete with a Buzz Light Year arcade, bouncy castle and a wild west-like obstacle course.
Cookies and milk will be served and a balloon artist will twist up souvenirs.
Is this event ...
a) A child's birthday party
b) A street carnival for kids, or
c). Stress relief for college kids?
The correct answer -- amid finals week -- is "C."
As students at the University of Colorado stress out over end-of-semester exams, the campus will host its twice-a-year Midnight Breakfast, with a Toy Story twist. The event, sponsored by student fees and volunteers, has been growing in popularity since it started in 1997 at the University Memorial Center.
Typically about 1,100 students show up, but a Harry Potter theme was just the right spell for finals-frenzied students last winter -- as nearly 1,500 students flocked to the event. Organizers are finding that themes that re-connect students with their childhood are popular.
"You forget for a while about the seriousness of finals," said Wylee Price, a CU sophomore studying international affairs and Russian.
She is planning on checking out the Midnight Breakfast -- if she hasn't crashed and fallen asleep from her grueling finals schedule.
On Saturday morning, she worked out on an elliptical machine while studying from her Russian textbook and prior to an evening final exam for her comparative politics course. She also had a looming eight-page paper due for her "Women in Russian History" course.
College leaders and student groups across the country put on events during finals week to curb stress -- including library dance parties, hammering away at junkyard cars and yoga. Some campuses bring in puppies for students to cuddle.
In the winter, at the Harry Potter-themed breakfast, students played a modified version of Quidditch. The fictional sport includes riding flying broomsticks, but the adapted ground game at CU will involve broomsticks, hoops and Nerf balls.
Students at CU helped select this year's Toy Story theme. The original Toy Story, a computer-animated movie from Disney, was first released in 1995, when today's college freshmen were just toddlers. Last summer, Toy Story 3 was released.
"We wanted to do some fun things that are easy and carefree and allow students to relax," said Erin Westmoreland King, coordinator of activities and special events at the UMC. "If they can take even just take a 10-minute break to bounce around in a castle and do an obstacle course that gets them moving, that's great."
Final exams at CU began Saturday and run through Thursday.
The midnight breakfast -- including breakfast burritos, coffee, doughnut holes and fruit -- will be from 11:59 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the UMC Alferd Packer Grill.
Community Health will offer free chair massages and aromatherapy from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m.
"We hope the chair massages will help give students a chance to relax and take a break amidst finals," said Anne Schuster, with Community Health. "We'll also provide more information on ways students can manage their stress, especially during finals."
Barney Ballinger, director of the Office of Parent Relations, sends out a newsletter to parents of CU students, and the most recent one lent tips on how to deal with students' stress surrounding finals week.
"We tell them to listen and be as supportive as possible. Pump them up as this is a stressful part of the semester."
Katrina Sternberg, a CU sophomore, took a break from studying on Saturday to load up on energy drinks and Starbucks before a spree of five final exams in the next few days. The stress gives her munchies and her snack-food of choice is Ramen noodles and Goldfish Crackers.
She'll be celebrating her 20th birthday today -- with an accounting and history final exam.
Samantha Lange, a CU junior studying integrative physiology, has four final exams and two lengthy papers due.
Her coping mechanism?
"I complain a lot," she said. "I'm such a procrastinator."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.