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People dine and shop in downtown Athens, Georgia on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach; taylormckenziephotography.com)

To welcome students to Athens, the University of Georgia Office of Government Relations has partnered with the Athens Downtown Development Authority and the UGA Office of Student Affairs to host the fifth annual North of the Arch event on Aug. 16 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. 

The event gives students the chance to explore the businesses of downtown Athens and win prizes. Students can pick up a map of participating businesses at the College Square Plaza, located on College Avenue between East Clayton Street and East Broad Street, as well as a list of clues that will act as a guide to different locations. 

North of the Arch was designed to introduce freshmen to downtown Athens, said director of business services for ADDA Linda Ford, but that is not the case this year. 

“This year we're expanding it and focusing on all students as kind of a welcome back to Athens after being very closed off during COVID,” government relations assistant for the Office of Government Relations Reaganne Coile said. Not only will it help students become acclimated to the new city, but North of the Arch will also spark economic development for downtown Athens, according to Coile.

Once students decode the clues and arrive at the correct location, they will upload photos of it using an online form. These entries, as well as social media posts at the participating businesses, will enter students into a raffle to win prizes from campus partners and downtown businesses. 

Various businesses will participate in the event this year. The Rook & Pawn, Zombie Coffee & Donuts, The K.A. Artist Shop, 1000 Faces Coffee, Pitaya and The Globe are just a handful of the sponsors. A complete list, as well as updated information on the event, can be found at the UGA Government Relations website.

The North of the Arch event will also feature a number of attractions in College Square. The first 215 students who arrive will receive a free breakfast and a swag bag of goodies, including a free event T-shirt. 

Hairy Dawg will make an appearance, and a radio station will DJ the event. Live demonstrations from business partners, such as mini classes from exercise studios, will also take place. 

Raffle prizes in the drawing will include footballs signed by Kirby Smart, a pass to cycling classes at Classic City Cycling, gift certificates and merchandise from participating businesses and more.