Westmont College’s Spring Sing, a student-performed variety show and competition between residence halls, celebrates its 50th anniversary at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Santa Barbara Bowl.

The skits, which include faculty and staff, are required to use the phrase of this year’s theme: “When life gives you lemons …”

Westmont alumnus and founder of Spring Sing, Norm Nelson ’61, will be a featured guest of Spring Sing 2011. Nelson, president of Lake Forest-based Compassion Radio, says he couldn’t have imagined what Spring Sing has become.

“I would never have thought that it would be such a major part of Westmont’s and Santa Barbara’s life, graduating to the Santa Barbara Bowl,” he said. “It’s a tribute to the ingenuity of Westmont students that it’s become such a special part of student life.”

Westmont’s first Spring Sing was held on the lawn in front of the Dining Commons, a far cry from this year’s venue, the 4,500-seat Santa Barbara Bowl, 1122 N. Milpas St.

Nelson says he brought the idea to Westmont after attending USC’s Spring Sing, which was held at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.

“As I watched the performances, it occurred to me that given the lack of creative activity on the Westmont campus during the spring term, a similar event could easily liven up student life,” he said.

Michele Mollkoy, director of first-year experience and special programs, admits that the mysterious and distracting tradition can dominate students’ lives this time of year.

“These students are also learning invaluable lessons in leadership and team dynamics, as well as the importance of hard work, creativity and follow-through from their experience with this co-curricular program,” Mollkoy said.

Spring Sing starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and doors open at 5:15 p.m. Tickets are $23 for general admission and $10 for children 12 and under. Click here to purchase tickets online, or contact Beth Pointer at 805.565.6056 for more information. Parking at the Santa Barbara Bowl is $5.

— Scott Craig is the media relations manager for Westmont College.