Children had their faces painted with Jayhawks, moons and rainbows.
High school students toured the campus with their parents, soaking in all the information and wondering about their college future.
KU alumni returned simply to enjoy the familiar sights and sounds of the crimson and blue.
KU's first-ever, all-university open house was a huge success and attracted more than 20,000 people, organizers said.
"It exceeded all our expectations," said Margey Frederick, director of the KU Visitor Center. "I was really surprised by the number of high school students and their parents who were visiting from out of state."
There were things to do for people of all ages. More than 100 organizations, departments and schools had planned more than 800 events.
Donna Writt's grandchildren, Halle Haas, 4, and her sister, Gabriel Ann, 7, enjoyed jumping up and down in the Moonwalk. Earlier in the day, Writt, a Lawrence resident, said the girls had advertisements made with their photographs at the journalism school and saw demonstrations at other departments.
Writt, a 1969 and fourth-generation KU graduate, said they enjoyed everything.
"It's been great," she said. "I even got a few things I didn't have before at the costume sale."
At Murphy Hall, University Theatre sold tons of old costumes from past performances. Susan Rendall, the theater's costume shop manager, said there were 12 tables and several hanging racks filled with costumes.
"Most of it sold and sold very quickly," she said. "The good stuff sold within the first hour."
In fact, Rendall said a few people arrived an hour before the sale started and at least 50 people rushed in when the doors opened. She said the money raised by the Friends of Theatre will help support future programs.
Nearby, people viewed the formula race cars, a heavy life airplane and a concrete canoe outside Learned Hall.
Parents visiting Jayhawks
The "cool toys" caught the attention of Nancy Holmes, a 1972 KU graduate from St. Louis, Mo., who was visiting her daughter, Melanie Kramer, a KU senior from St. Louis.
"I'm having a wonderful time," Holmes said. "We're finding all sorts of things. I had my name written in Arabic and Russian and talked about graduation."
Other activities included duck pond races, choreographed dances, costume parades and last lectures given by KU professors.
There were tons of brochures and information about scholarships, study abroad programs and different departments.
Families watching students participate in the high school marching band festival at Memorial Stadium also visited the open house.
Red and Jane Voss, Lenexa, and their son, William, 11, walked around and checked out the sights when their daughter, Rachel, a sophomore at Blue Valley North, wasn't playing.
"We've enjoyed this," Red Voss said. "This will be one of the schools we'll probably look at when our daughter goes to college."
The open house even gave people a chance to see the new exhibit, "The Esquire Pinups" by Alberto Vargas at the Spencer Museum of Art.
"I think there's a good number that haven't been here before, and there's a few regulars," museum director Andrea Norris said.
At the end of the day, Frederick praised the 500-plus volunteers who helped at the event and the facility employees who worked hard beautifying the campus.
"It was such a huge group effort, and I'm really proud of everyone," she said. "All of the committee people I've worked with are bursting with ideas for next year."
For example, Frederick said the committee hopes to see junior high and younger high school students checking out the campus.
"Next year, we need to have people thinking about furthering their education before they wait until their junior or senior year in high school," she said.
The event culminated with a Hispanic heritage parade on Jayhawk Boulevard. Chancellor Robert Hemenway, dressed in a sombrero, led the parade, which honored October as National Hispanic Heritage Month.
-- Staff writer Joy Ludwig can be reached at 832-7144.