Picnic Day Goes Virtual

Videos From Past Years and Virtual Activities Take the Place of an In-Person Event

Graphic promoting virtual Picnic Day on April 18.
The organizers of Picnic Day will livestream videos from past years and provide virtual activities like Picnic Day bingo and children’s crafts.

There’s only one must-visit location for Picnic Day this year, and it’s your couch.

With this year’s in-person event called off because of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers are hoping to satisfy nostalgia for Picnic Day mainstays with a series of historic videos and virtual events taking place on what would have been the 106th Picnic Day, this Saturday (April 18).


“Several community members asked if we'd do anything virtually, so we did what we could,” said Picnic Day Chair Nicole Deacon. “We compiled old videos and video submissions from this year’s participants into a website that allows people to essentially walk around campus, virtually.”

These are things you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home, just you and those with whom you are sheltering in place. No gatherings. It’s just not safe. State and county officials say, don’t do it. Chancellor May says don’t do it.

In addition to videos, the Picnic Day website will also feature interactive activities like Picnic Day bingo and DIY activities for kids, in the spirit of the Children’s Discovery Fair. 

Picnic Day T-shirt
This shirt will be available on the UC Davis Stores website Friday through Monday.

The organizers will also sell Picnic Day T-shirts — available on the website of UC Davis Stores — with all of the proceeds going to support health care workers at the UC Davis Medical Center.

Deacon said the decision to cancel the in-person event was painful, but the right decision.

“As a graduating senior who chose UC Davis after attending Picnic Day my senior year of high school, I was at first very upset that I won't be able to see this through,” she said. “However, this pandemic has a put a lot into perspective regarding things we can and cannot change. I've realized that the spirit of Picnic Day is what makes it so special to campus and the community, and that's something that nothing can take away.”

The next in-person Picnic Day is scheduled for April 17, 2021. Want to remember some recent events and get in the mood for Saturday’s virtual celebration? Here is a collection of photos from past Picnic Days, showcasing some of the high points of the event:

The animals

Students milk a cow
Eric Yun shows a group of students how to milk a cow at Picnic Day in 2013. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)
A family looks at a horse
All manner of barnyard animals are on display during Picnic Day: From left, Ron Northcutt, Crista Cannariato, Miles Northcutt, and Kevin Northcutt greet a horse at the Cole Facility in 2012. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

The science

Fire blooms on a chemistry table
The Chemistry Magic Show, performed multiple times each Picnic Day, demonstrates how powerful various reactions can be. At this 2018 performance, David Dominguez Aguilar ignites a balloon while Virginia Johnson and Samantha Teshima serve as masters of ceremonies. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

The people

Picnic Day parade
The parade always draws a large crowd at Picnic Day, as it did here in 2019. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)
Students hand out balloons to young kids at the fire department.
There’s always plenty for kids to do at Picnic Day, like visiting the fire station. Here, biology majors Ariel Ramirez, left, and Juliann Wang, right, hand out balloons in 2017. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

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