William & Mary’s class of 2019 will line up and receive their diplomas Saturday, and with their friends and family attending the ceremony and festivities comes the issue of parking.
With a change of graduation venue, students received more guest tickets this year, meaning parking services had to plan for even more visitors to the school, said William Horacio, director of parking services for the school. This year, graduation will be in Zable Stadium and students received three extra tickets for guests.
But those guests have to find a place to park first and while it seems like a simple process, parking planning for graduation begins as early as November. The commencement planning committee and a separate subcommittee works with university affairs, parking services and the Williamsburg Police Department.
“The first thing we do is take into account the demands of the event and make changes to the format,” Horacio said. “It’s a continuous evolution every year of what worked well and what didn’t, the process is continually being rewritten and approved.”
Horacio, who has worked William & Mary graduation for 14 years, said there are 5,000 spaces available for parking on campus and each year, nearly all of them are full. But there has to be a plan to accommodate for all of those guests, catering, work crews and staff, he said.
“The congested areas are always in the immediate area of where the main venue is,” he said, adding there is also a plan for the rain location, Kaplan Arena, as well.
However, if the ceremony is moved to Kaplan Arena there is less seating and only four out of the seven tickets will be accepted for guests. Guests can sign up for updated ceremony alerts on William & Mary’s website.
To beat the morning traffic, Horacio said guests need to consider how long they plan on sitting and waiting before the ceremony begins. Typically, he said, guests start arriving when the stadium’s gates open at 6:30 a.m. but members of his staff will be out to direct morning parking traffic as early as 4:30 a.m.
The day begins with the academic procession at 8:30 a.m. in Zable Stadium but individual diploma ceremonies will be held across campus starting at 11:30 a.m.
To help families plan, the school has provided a map with recommended parking zones based on diploma ceremonies.
Additionally, there will be shuttles running from various locations throughout the ceremony every 15 to 20 minutes.
For more information on parking location recommendations, visit William & Mary online.