The first person to compliment Elisa Sneegas on her commencement attire was none other than Kansas University Chancellor Gene Budig.
Covered with shiny glitter and silly string, Sneegas made sure that she stood out during KU's 118th Commencement ceremony Sunday.
Sneegas, a Lenexa design major, also carried a huge red crayon down the Hill. She said Budig gave his OK on her design ability.
"He said, `I like your outfits,'" Sneegas boasted.
Her friend, Krista Williamson, a design major from Overland Park, also was soaked in color.
"We wanted to be beautiful today," Williamson said.
SARA LANE, an Overland Park human biology major, joined Sneegas and Williamson in the School of Fine Arts queue, although she actually was getting her degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
"She's a rebel," Williamson said, laughing.
Many students from KU's first graduating class of the 1990s were rebels. Although alcohol is not allowed on state property, empty beer cans and liquor bottles littered Memorial Drive, where about 5,700 graduates gathered before the march to Memorial Stadium.
Mark Christopherson and Rob Quinlivan, electrical engineering students who had been sipping beer, wore their last design projects complete with circuits and wires around their necks.
"THIS IS the product of 90 all-nighters," Christopherson said.
Carrying 12-packs of beer, two students who identified themselves as Jim Johnson and Frank Morgan said they didn't care about the no-drinking rule.
"Never did, never will," Morgan said.
Full beer cans were thrown to some graduates as they walked down the Hill after passing through the university's Memorial Campanile.
But Lt. John Mullens of the KU Police Department said alcohol consumption at graduation appeared to be less than in past years. The commencement ceremony was moved from the early evening to 2 p.m. this year in an effort to reduce drinking among KU graduates.
"Overall, I would probably say that it was less," Mullens said. "This is based on trash pickup afterwards if nothing else."
MULLENS SAID reduced time between commencement activities helped to squelch drinking.
The afternoon ceremony didn't squelch the crowd, which numbered about 35,000. Mullens said it was the largest crowd he had ever seen at commencement.
Lucy and Ted Kennedy flew in from Birmingham, Ala., to see their daughter, Ann Keith, graduate from the School of Architecture and Urban Design.
Mrs. Kennedy said it "felt great" to see her daughter finish college.
"This is a wonderful graduation," she said. "We've never experienced anything like it."
Sabrina Markese's parents, grandparents and husband were on hand to see her graduate with honors. When James Muyskens, dean of liberal arts and sciences, announced the college's degree candidates, Markese's mother, Jackie Wing, stood up and applauded.
"I'm really excited to see that she graduated with honors," Mrs. Wing said.
Scott Wagner, Brian Luckerman and Steve Mason announced they were heading to California. Wearing miniature beaches on their caps, the duo carried "California or Bust" and "Busted in California" signs into the stadium.
A GROUP of engineering students carried a 183-pound concrete canoe down the Hill. Filled with beer cans, the canoe took a place on the sidelines as the graduates took a breather in the stands.
While waiting to march to the stadium, Andrew Salkeld said four students carried the canoe from Learned Hall. They then carried a female colleague, Elise Russell White, down the Hill in the canoe.
Sunday's graduation activities, blessed by mild temperatures and partly cloudy skies, seemed relaxed, said Melanie Shifter and Lauranne Hess, who both graduated with master's degrees in education. They said KU's graduation ceremony was much different from their undergraduate ceremonies at other universities.
"It's a lot more relaxed and informal," Shifter said.
Debbie Freed, who graduated from liberal arts and sciences, summed up her graduation in three words: "It's a miracle."