Dedicated fall-lovers celebrate the season with RSO festivities

Members of the October Lovers exec board pose for a photo at Curtis Apple Orchard.

Photo Courtesy of October Lovers

Members of the October Lovers exec board pose for a photo at Curtis Apple Orchard.

By Carmen Martinez, Contributing Writer

The changing of the leaves, sweater weather and crisp fall air marks the beginning of autumn, the season the October Lovers have dedicated their RSO to celebrating. 

Hosting events exclusively in October, the October Lovers’ sole purpose is to spread fall cheer. This includes hosting a number of events throughout the month such as a bonfire, a trip to Curtis Orchard, a corn maze, a barn dance and a haunted house. 

“We’re all about fun,” Michael Hennelly said, the vice president of the RSO and junior in LAS,  “There’s no meetings, nothing is mandatory, you just show up and have a good time.” 

According to a study conducted by YouGov, a global public opinion data company, 29% of people responded and said fall is their favorite season, making it the most well-liked season in America in that survey. This sentiment can be seen at the University, where the club’s mailing list consists of thousands of students.

“It’s a bit of an implacable quality,” Christel Thompson, the club’s social media chair and junior in LAS, said over the phone, “Most people will point at the changing colors of the leaves or the ushering in of sweater weather, but to me, it’s the energy of the season.”

Others such as Bianca Espinosa-Speta, apparel chair and sophomore in Education, enjoy the season because “it’s very fun and playful…a lot of other holidays can be more serious.”

The RSO kicked off their festive fall season at the Illini Grove with their annual bonfire on Oct. 2. Attendees got the chance to indulge in some free s’mores and mingle with other members. 

This was followed by a trip to Curtis Orchard a few days after the bonfire, a place Hennelly believes is “quintessentially fall.” 

“If you love fall and you love fall weather and fall things, Curtis Orchard is the place to be,” Hennelly said. “Apple picking, pumpkin patch — the store has so many good, delicious fall stuff and great apple cider.”

Thompson shares the same enthusiasm to go to the apple orchard with the rest of the RSO, not only because of the fall energy, but also because of the community the October Lovers brings together. 

“Nothing compares to getting to Curtis Orchards bright and early on a Sunday, with a bus full of people who are just as excited as you to be there,” Thompson said. 

However, one of the best bonding experiences is the corn maze at Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in Rantoul. 

“I got stuck in the corn maze for the longest time,” Espinosa-Septa said, “it was so muddy, it was so gross, my shoes were ruined, but it was just fun because I met new people because we were all in the same situation and we helped each other out.” 

While at the ranch, visitors have the opportunity to see baby reindeer as well. The club will go on Thursday. 

The barn dance, taking place at the end of the month, is one of the RSO’s most well-known events because of how it integrates the University tradition and practices inclusivity. Unlike other barn dances in which you have to be a part of the organization or be invited, the October Lovers barn dance is open to anybody who wants to come. In the past, they’ve had as many as 500 people attend. 

“We usually play country music and have pretty lights, and it’s more of a mingling experience,” Espinosa-Septa said, “it’s super cool to meet everyone that is in the club… It’s a bunch of different groups of people.”

The RSO ends its season of events with a haunted house, lining up with Halloween. The events are planned to celebrate all parts of October, all parts of fall. 

“We only have five events and they all have a different aspect of October in there, so if you come to all of them, you really get everything,” Hennelly said. 

All of the events allow attendees to explore at their own pace.

“It’s a great way to get a taste of the autumn culture that Chamabana has to offer in a non-structured, organic way,” Thompson said.

The club runs on a first-come, first-serve basis with one or two buses ready to transport an eager bunch of students to off-campus events, often reaching hundreds of students. (With the exception of the barn dance, which requires payment and registration ahead of time). 

This year, the fall spirit is especially high with as many as 500 people purchasing October Lovers apparel, the most amount of people the club has seen purchase apparel, according to Espinosa-Septa. 

Hennelly says the club is special because of their widespread appeal on campus, but also because there is no other group quite like them. 

“Everyone has their own part of fall that they love and it all happens in October, there’s something for everyone,” Hennelly said. “There’s not a lot of other clubs on campus that are this much fun with almost no work.”

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