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A Day on the Terrace

One brave reporter took one for the team and spent the entire workday sitting on the Memorial Union Terrace.

New Memorial Union Terrace photo by Bryce Richter.

Is there such a thing as too much Terrace? We decided to find out. The day couldn’t have been better. It was the first full Friday that the Terrace has been open since closing early last season. The winds were little more than a gentle breeze, perfectly puffy clouds dotted the sky, and the high temperature was set for 75 degrees. So, yeah, I went and sat on the Terrace for eight hours. For a story. For research. For science.


There is no such thing as too much Terrace time.


One brave reporter (yours truly) will take one for the team and spend the entire workday (approx. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) sitting on the Memorial Union Terrace.

[This photo gallery is temporarily unavailable]


9:30 a.m.

The first action starts: five Hoofers sailboats take off from their dock as a group of six sit around a table on the lower half of the Terrace.

9:45 a.m.

A few more people show up, all reading and listening to music.

10:05 a.m.

The beer taps start going in at the brat stand. There are approximately eight employees, all wearing bright orange hats.

10:09 a.m.

A shockingly obnoxious foghorn goes off three times by Helen C. White and two Hoofers boats almost capsize.

10:17 a.m.

The day’s first picture on the big orange chair happens. Unfortunately, it’s of a less-than-happy child who lets out a wail. His siblings make a bid for freedom.

10:18 a.m.

A yawning student employee screws in the S’Wheat Caroline tap.

10:19 a.m.

A couple tries to order beer at the brat stand. “We’re not open till 11 … sorry,” the student employee says. “Do you want water?” They don’t.

10:30 a.m.

All of the taps are in and the grill is fired up. A recent grad commences a photo shoot with an iPhone and an orange Terrace chair.

11:01 a.m.

There’s a line of five at the brat stand.

11:03 a.m.

The first pitcher makes its way from the stand to a table of fifty-somethings.

11:20 a.m.

There’s a constant line of about 10 people at a time. At first, I wasn’t sure why there needed to be so many orange hats working. I get it now.

11:30 a.m.

“I can help whoever’s next!” Probably the most popular phrase of the day.

12:00 p.m.

Tables on the upper levels are quickly filling up.

12:15 p.m.

A vegetarian takes an accidental bite a beef patty, rather than the black bean patty he ordered. He reluctantly gets back in the long line.

12:40 p.m.

Pitchers are flowing freely all across the Terrace.

1:10 p.m.

It’s getting loud …

1:20 p.m.

Maybe there is such a thing as too much Terrace. Also, I probably should have brought sunscreen.

1:30 p.m.

Considerably more people have chosen to jump over the new retaining wall than go all the way around to enter the second level of seating. Including a dad with a stroller.

1:35 p.m.

The demographics start skewing notably younger. A group of four brunettes start stockpiling chairs around a cluster of tables. They quickly decide that they have too many orange ones.

2:00 p.m.

All of the lakeside picnic tables have filled up, and the new wooden benches lining the bottom mezzanine are starting to fill as well.

2:45 p.m.

A small crew starts setting up the new music stage for the evening’s performance.

3:10 p.m.

The ambient volume continues to rise.

3:46 p.m.

A guy standing at the water’s edge strips down to his shorts and goes in. The Labrador retriever at the table nearest him looks on with jealous eyes.

4:05 p.m.

The Daily Scoop has run out of peanut butter ice cream (nooooo!).

4:30 p.m.

Clouds have started blocking the sun, and most people’s eyes are visible for the first time all day. But a few clouds don’t put a damper on anyone’s spirit.

4:40 p.m.

The “line” by the brat stand looks more like a mosh pit.


The biggest discovery was that, yes, there is such a thing as too much Terrace. However, I believe that the experiment was set up to reach such a conclusion. While I spent the day working, alone, I watched groups of friends, alumni, and students gather for pitchers and laughs. I suppose I’ll just have to repeat the experiment … but instead of bringing my computer, I’ll bring some friends, my ID, and lots of sunscreen.

(Photos by Bryce Richter/UW-Madison)

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