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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Alumni reunite, reminisce

Homecoming weekend at Dartmouth is an exciting time for traditions such as the bonfire and the freshman sweep, but underclassmen are not the only ones who converge on the Green to revel in school spirit. Every year tents to receive individual classes of alumni pop up around Hanover, welcoming back alums arriving to reconnect with their Dartmouth days, if only for a weekend.

While reunions for alums celebrating 10, 20 or 50 years away from Hanover bring back many people, recent graduates often create the most visible presence on campus. A young alumni tent, specifically for the reception of the most recent of Dartmouth's graduates, serves as a gathering point for many during the football game.

"It's a nice idea. You can go and see people closer to your own age or a little older than you," Allison MacDonald '00 said.

Joe Scott '00 is planning on returning for Homecoming. As a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, it will be his last chance to visit Dartmouth before heading overseas for a six-month mission in Saudi Arabia.

While at Dartmouth, Scott plans on attending the celebration of the centennial of his undergraduate fraternity, Sigma Nu, and plans to visit friends he made while in the ROTC program. He also looks forward to marching in the parade with the Dartmouth College Marching Band and playing with them during the half-time show at the football game.

"The band's very important to me," Scott said. "That's where I met my wife. She's a '99."

Current members of the marching band fondly recall when Scott proposed to his then-girlfriend during an annual marching band banquet.

Every year the band welcomes alums to join current members in leading the freshmen sweep through the streets of Hanover. MacDonald had yet to decide whether or not she will participate. Having just completed her master's degree in earth science at Dartmouth, she continued to play with the band after her undergraduate days.

"I've never seen the parade," she said, but fondly recalled the band's swelling numbers during the Homecoming festivities.

Despite her many years of participation, MacDonald didn't know the average increase in the size of the band, but she said that it felt "unreal." The marching band traditionally performs a more artistic show for Homecoming, for the visual pleasure of returning fans.

"People come back with their kids. You feel really connected with tradition," MacDonald said.

Homecoming's traditional aspects hold a lot of allure for some alums, while others visit campus for the sole purpose of visiting old friends, not taking much notice of the giant pile of wood alight on the Green.

"I loved Homecoming when I was a student," Scott said. "The bonfire, the ambiance, meeting people who had experienced Dartmouth before I was there." Asked specifically about the bonfire, he replied, "Fire's always cool."

T.J. Wright '02 held a slightly different view. "I never liked the idea of the bonfire. It seemed pagan and very wasteful. But coming back it has a certain evocative, nostalgic allure."

Since the biggest reason for many alums to return to their alma mater is to visit with friends, Homecoming weekend is a convenient time to make the trek to Hanover, especially for many who can only make it once a year.

Tim Waligore '01 described the unspoken, yet mutual agreement of many alums to visit for Homecoming as "a self-fulfilling expectation on everyone's part."

Homecoming "holds no special meaning for me, but in that it holds a special meaning for a lot of other people, I expect everyone to converge," said Waligore, currently a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University. He added that Homecoming is also a time when he is able to find someone to carpool with.

"Homecoming is the one time every year you can really count on everyone to be there," MacDonald said.

Wright, currently studying law at Boston University, visited campus recently, but said that he's looking forward to Homecoming much more, "to see everyone together."

"Other times it's extremely lonely, because you realize that nobody's together anymore," he said. "Dartmouth is not Dartmouth without the people who made it."