Commencements at UMass Amherst begin Thursday

Hampshire County

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Pomp and circumstance finally playing at UMass Amherst, hosting the first of three in-person graduations this year. 

Every business 22News spoke with, whether it was a salon, a restaurant, or an inn, told me they will be incredibly busy these next few days. 

“We’re still wearing masks and we’re still keeping our distance from people, but things are getting back to normal,” said Ann King, owner of Amherst Inn. 

King and her husband have owned the Amherst Inn for 30 years. Their business, like so many, struggled over the last year and a bit. 

“We came close to shutting our doors, so it’s been a very tough time and it’s just now beginning to start to pick up,” King said. 

Vaccines, lower COVID cases and fewer restrictions, building up to what will be a busy weekend for the Inn with commencement underway. 

Thousands of chairs are at UMass for the graduation. Each one for a student. So, you can just imagine how many will be bringing their parents and what that will mean for businesses in town. 

“Pretty much for the whole weekend we’re almost completely booked, which is awesome,” said Nathan Yee, general manager of Johnny’s Tavern. 

22News spoke with Yee back in January, when things appeared to be at their toughest industry wide. It was takeout that helped restaurants through it. 

But, with things so booked up inside the restaurant Friday, Yee said they won’t be doing takeout orders. 

“It feels great to know that we made it. It’s been a long, long 18 months,” Yee added. 

This was the graduate school commencement. Friday, there will be multiple ceremonies for the undergraduates. 

Drivers may experience delays in the area as the Class of 2021 commencements are taking place at the McGuirk Alumni Stadium. There will be no guests allowed but the events will be livestreamed to those unable to be there.

On Thursday, the Graduate School Commencement will begin at 4 p.m.

On Friday, the Undergraduate Commencement will take place at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

  • Traffic on University Drive will be restricted to buses between Massachusetts Avenue and Amity Street.
  • Rocky Hill Road between University Drive and North Maple Street will have restricted access.
  • All vehicles attending the ceremonies should use Route 116 to the UMass exit.
  • Vehicles will be parked in the parking lots surrounding the stadium.

If the lots are full around the stadium, vehicles attending the ceremonies will be parked in Lots 32, 34 and 71 off Massachusetts Avenue.

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