'08s anticipate exciting and memorable weekend

by Elise Waxenberg and John Mitchell | 10/29/04 5:00am

Although Homecoming has been celebrated at Dartmouth for 100-plus years, it remains shrouded in mystery for this year's freshmen until tonight. Most '08s have heard the basics of what is perhaps the most exciting weekend of the year. But having yet to experience the weekend for themselves, the specific goings-on of Homecoming weekend are still unknown.

The bonfire tonight is the focal point of the expectations of many freshmen. They also know what's expected of them: 108 laps around the impressive structure.

Dyese Taylor '08 plans to fulfill that expectation.

"It's a tradition here," she said, "and we're the Class of '08."

The Freshman Sweep promises to be almost as memorable as the pillar of flame. The entire class comes together as the parade moves from the River, picks up the poor souls stuck in the Choates, snags the lucky few in the Gold Coast, and finally collects the stragglers behind Dartmouth Hall. As this mother of all 'shmobs descends upon the Green, the participants experience one of the defining sights of their Dartmouth careers in the form of the unlit pyre waiting for their arrival.

Rebecca Beasley-Cockroft '08 recognized the significance of Homecoming and the bonfire as opportunities to unite with the rest of her class and join the ranks of the thousands of alumni who circled the bonfire in the crisp autumn days of their first terms at Dartmouth.

There is a "high level of tradition involved with Homecoming that freshmen are looking forward to being a part of," Beasley-Cockroft said.

The excitement of Homecoming is a change for many freshmen who come from high schools where the celebration rarely involved much enthusiasm.

"Homecoming at my high school was not a big event," Beasley-Cockroft said, "if the administration let us have a pep rally, we'd be excited to get out of class."

Taylor said she had heard that there will be a large turnout from upperclassmen, Hanover residents and alumni returning for the weekend to cheer the freshmen on as they run.

In an effort to make arrests over Homecoming weekend less of an official tradition, the College has acted preemptively to provide '08s with advice on how to enjoy Homecoming within the boundaries of the law. A seminar was offered on Tuesday that served, in part, to provide advice on avoiding arrest during Homecoming.

Students also received a BlitzMail message with information on safety at the event on Monday from Dean of the College James Larimore. In the message, Larimore asked the student body to refrain from inappropriate behavior to keep the lighting of the bonfire "safe and enjoyable for all who attend."

Larimore also mentioned that "for obvious safety reasons, students may not touch the fire or climb the structure."

Larimore's concern is probably valid, as freshmen like David Villagra '08 are looking forward to some "debauchery around the bonfire."

An active Greek social scene also characterizes Homecoming.

Villagra said he anticipates "numerous options for things to do at night, provided by the fraternities of Dartmouth."

Taylor concurred: "There are a lot of parties I guess, but there are always a lot of parties at Dartmouth."

The annual tailgating should also make for a memorable time, bringing the whole school together to socialize with friends before the football game. While this year's football contest against a Harvard Crimson juggernaut may not end up being much to cheer about, the freshman class will at the very least leave the stadium with the memories of a brisk autumn afternoon spent with friends.

Brian Schwartz '08 expressed the general sentiment of freshmen as far as what they anticipate for Homecoming weekend: "I don't know" he said, "I've been here for a month. After the weekend, we'll know what it's all about."

One thing the freshmen class does know is that they're in for a good time.

"The upperclassmen hype it a lot," Villagra said.

Bruce Kennedy '00 effectively summed up the opinions of upperclassmen and alumni who know the thrill of Homecoming.

"Homecoming was my favorite big weekend as a student and remains so as an alum. Homecoming embodies the camaraderie of the men and women of Dartmouth," he said.