LEWISTON — For the first few hours of the evening, it was all about the deals. Bates College students made the rounds, taking advantage of discounts and special offers at area restaurants.

Fifteen percent off at DiVinci’s, Sea40 and Mother India. On the other side of the bridge, they got 25 percent off at Gritty’s and 10 percent at Naral’s. In all, more than a dozen local businesses welcomed the students.

They came, they ate, they saved. Then it was party time and the Bates students were out making music, making art and living it up, all part of the event known as Bates Night in Town.

The annual event, in its fourth year, is meant to be a celebration of the relationship between community and campus.

“It’s a chance for Bates students and the community to embrace each other in a positive and constructive way,” said organizer Caroline O’Sullivan, a Bates senior from Andover, Mass. “It’s a great opportunity for Bates students to break out of the campus bubble and see the amazing things that this community has to offer. And it’s a chance for community members to see Bates students’ artwork and performances, and just get a sense of what Bates students are like.”

The Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce co-sponsored the event. The Bates Arts Collaborative and the Bates singing group the Deansmen co-sponsored the a cappella and dance performance that concluded the festivities.

Student musicians and other performers strutted their stuff at venues including Gritty McDuff’s in Auburn. Also in Auburn, dessert was a focus for the first time in the event’s history, as Top It Frozen Yogurt Bar and Maine Gourmet Chocolates, at 168 and 170 Main St. respectively, took part in Bates Night in Town.

To wrap up the event, all five of Bates’ a cappella groups and the Bates Dance Club performed at Festival Plaza on Main Street in Auburn. For O’Sullivan, that final session was the high point of Bates’ night in town.

“It’s really the place,” she said, “where the community and the students can come together in the open air and just enjoy some music and dance.”

The dance club opened with a demonstration of works in progress, followed by two or three songs apiece from Bates’ a cappella ensembles: the Deansmen, the Merimanders, the Manic Optimists, the Crosstones and TakeNote.

“It’s just so fun to be with your friends off campus and just step off for a moment,” O’Sullivan said.


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