Alumni recall past Homecomings with fondness, nostalgia

by Dan Duray | 10/21/05 5:00am

Though Dartmouth students often can't remember portions of their Homecoming weekend, most alumni find the experience hard to forget.

For many, it is the bonfire that spurns the fondest memories.

"Its legacy over the years and each class' individual memory of building it, guarding it, making friends around it is wonderful," Julie Cillo '92 said. "Our bonfire was the one that didn't collapse and so we spent most of the night watching to see if at some point it would fall,"

"The rush of adrenaline that comes from being a first-year student and running around a burning structure with all of your new best friends is incomparable," Janelle Ruley '00 said, noting that watching the bonfire as a senior was her favorite Homecoming memory.

The Homecoming football game was yet another source of memories, especially for those who were brave enough to rush the field. Alex Affleck '90, recalls one game in particular.

"I remember one Homecoming, it may have been 1987 or 1988, I can't remember which, where Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo himself was at the game," he said. "Before the game he was in the tennis tents adjacent to the field at some alumni tailgating function and we all went over as a bloc and played a few Dartmouth tunes for him. He clearly enjoyed it and one of the bandies, a keg player, got him to sign his keg."

Keeshan's return for Homecoming is common for many alumni, and Ruley noted that Dartmouth's festivities are set apart from other Homecoming celebrations by "the number of alumni who return, to either relive the experience, or to see it all again, from a new perspective."

"We travel from all over the country and world to come back to campus, to be among old friends and new friends, to share stories across generations, to meet current students and absorb their Dartmouth experiences," Cillo said. "I've returned three times for Homecoming since graduating. I would love to return even more."

Affleck agreed, having worked for Dartmouth for six years after his own graduation and therefore attending multiple Homecoming weekends. His favorite Homecoming tradition is the Glee Club allowing alumni to join them in singing from the steps of Dartmouth Hall, he said.

"I look forward to doing that again," Affleck said.

For alumni, Homecoming can be seen as a way of reuniting to share old memories and to create new ones with current students.

"The sense of Dartmouth spirit, with everyone dressed in green, gathered in tents, and reveling in being 'home' again cannot be expressed in just words," Cillo said. "We are truly a very large family and that weekend brings us together."

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!