4/20 Celebrations at UCSC

Background information/context of performance: DC is a 21-year-old student at University of California, Santa Cruz. She grew up in Los Angeles and Alameda, CA, but is currently living in an apartment in Santa Cruz. Now that she’s back on campus, DC has been able to engage with UCSC culture much more often, which includes a large amount of “stoner” culture that is specific to Northern California. Since this is very well-known about UCSC culture and its student body, I asked DC about any 4/20 traditions she has learned about as a student.

DC: We go to Porter Meadow which is on-campus where one of the colleges is and smoke every year on 4/20. It’s a thing for all the students, um, because it used to be a tradition for everyone every year. This was the first year everyone got to do it in a couple years because of remote school.

Me: Did you know about this tradition before you decided to go to UC Santa Cruz?

DC: Yeah, since, like, a lot of kids we know from high school go to UCSC, I feel like it’s kind of just a known tradition now. Plus I had older brothers who knew a lot of people who go there. I also had, um, some upperclassmen friends who go to UCSC now too. And 4/20 in itself is just well known in Northern California. I feel like as you grow up here you just learn these things.

Me: So is this how you spent your 4/20 this year?

DC: I went to Porter Meadow with my boyfriend and my friends and just kinda like stood outside in the grass with everyone and smoked. We brought picnic blankets and some food and it was pretty warm that day, so it was honestly really nice to see everyone hanging out outside together again…it felt like I was getting a very college experience (laughs).

Me: How was it for your first Porter Meadow experience?

DC: (laughs) It was fun! It’s so specific to my school, so it was cool to finally experience it.

DC and I have been friends since high school, but now that we’re at different universities I obviously am not able to see her or talk to her as often as I would like. I enjoyed being able to talk about this when I saw her during our Fall break. It was interesting to realize that hearing about the folklore that my friends are exposed to in their new environments was a great way to get to know what their daily lives are like now. In that way, I think that folklore and traditions not only creates a feeling of membership and belonging in a group, but also allows for connection through storytelling. Because we both grew up in the Bay Area, I do think that 4/20 traditions and celebrations are well-circulated among teenagers and adults, but DC was able to actually experience a piece of folklore that had only been something we had heard of through word of mouth for years as high schoolers. This emphasizes the idea that folklore and tradition are able to persevere for such long periods of time, despite something as life-changing as the Covid-19 pandemic. DC was still able to feel as though she is part of a specific group or culture at UCSC, despite missing over a year of in-person school.