Festivities a time of nostalgia for alums

by Ithan Peltan | 10/27/00 5:00am

As students take advantage of the opportunities for fun and relaxation which abound this weekend, some of their predecessors will be returning to campus to relive memories of Homecoming weekends past.

Members of 53 different graduating classes are expected to converge on Dartmouth beginning today for the Homecoming festivities.

"It's a very powerful weekend," Alumni Council President Missy Asbill Attridge '77 said. "I think Homecoming is sort of the best of that emotional attachment to Dartmouth."

Director of Alumni Relations Nelson Armstrong noted the symbolic meaning of the weekend for alumni and referenced the literal significance of the weekend's name, home-coming.

"It's the opportunity to come back physically to a place where you lived ... and that is also home in your heart," Armstrong said.

Asbill Attridge pointed out that visits to the College over Homecoming weekend offer alumni a chance not just to revisit past glories, but to mix with current students as well, something that does not always happen during other weekends organized for alumni.

"In one sense, you get a chance to relive the old days. In another sense, you get a chance to be a part of what Dartmouth is right now," Armstrong said.

Besides attending athletic competitions and wandering the campus, alumni will have the chance to attend a number of specialized events -- including mini-reunions, memorial services and class meetings -- organized primarily at the class level.

The College leaves much of the event planning to the alumni groups themselves, but does coordinate this evening's "Dartmouth Night" festivities, designed to entertain students and community members as well as alumni.

Alumni will take the lead in the Homecoming kickoff event, the class-by-class parade that starts in front of Memorial Stadium. Members of the oldest class present will lead off and the Class of 2004 will bring up the rear as they participate in the Freshman Sweep.

Next, current and former students speak to the assembled crowd -- which usually numbers 10,000 or more. As president of the Alumni Council, Asbill Attridge will address the crowd along with College President James Wright.

Asbill Attridge said she would be "speaking from the heart" about her affection for Dartmouth.

After that comes what Asbill Attridge called the most memorable moment of the weekend, something for which she has returned to campus several times since graduation: the bonfire.

"I think the whole night before, with the parade and rally, is unique," she said, "but to me, the bonfire is truly awesome. It's quite a spectacle to behold."

Despite the high concentration of donation prospects on campus, the College does not make any major fundraising efforts over Homecoming weekend, Alumni Fund Director Robert Caldwell said. Just a couple of Alumni Fund events are scheduled to take place.

Neither are references to the fall term Big Weekend used explicitly as part of fundraising efforts at other times during the year, he said.