Homecoming traditions: sprinting, parties, fire, football

by Samantha Ackah | 10/21/05 5:00am

Fall term's biggest weekend has arrived and the College will play host to a football game against Columbia University as well as the traditional bonfire as part of this year's Homecoming celebrations.

While parties are already underway, the main focus of Homecoming will be Friday evening's bonfire. A unique and long-standing Dartmouth tradition, the bonfire will begin with the Freshman Sweep, gathering all the freshmen across campus and then ending in a congregation on the Green.

"Upperclassmen have told me about the bonfire and running around it 109 times, or so they claim," Jessica Schuster '09 said.

For members of the Class of 2009, Homecoming weekend will serve as an official welcome to the College's social scene.

"I'm pretty excited for the weekend, but mostly curious to see what big Dartmouth culture events are really like," Shuster said. "I like the way it combines good, old-fashioned Dartmouth traditions with a fun outlet for students."

A more common feature of Homecoming in other institutions, the football game on Saturday gives students the opportunity to adorn themselves in Dartmouth paraphernalia in support of the team.

A number of students are planning to attend the game and said they are also looking forward to the numerous fraternity parties that are set to occur over the next two days.

"Besides the Homecoming football game against Columbia, I most look forward to the parties," Anthony Bates '09 said. "Being on the football team, I will be at the game on Saturday, then, like any other weekend, my friends and I will be at the fraternities for the rest of the night."

Although the bonfire and several other activities will focus primarily on members of the Class of 2009, the majority of upperclassmen feel excitement for the weekend. Melody Dai '07, who is currently off-campus pursuing an internship, said she planned on visiting for Homecoming weekend. Dai is one among many current students and alumni that will return for the celebration.

"The only thing I can really think about, at least for the last two weeks, was how excited I am to go up to Dartmouth for Homecoming," she said. "I'm in serious Dartmouth withdrawal; I can't wait to see all the friends and amazing alums that I've met so far at my two years at Dartmouth."

Dave Raines '07 feels that participating in Homecoming as an upperclassman has been less thrilling than as a freshman.

"Homecoming is boring," Raines said. "How many times can we push freshmen into a giant fire without it becoming a little bit boring?"

Baird Hull '07 agreed with Raines, asserting that Homecoming is essentially a first-year experience.

"I remember it being a blast freshman year, fighting for survival, getting pushed around in the crowd in a state of half drunkenness," Hull said.

"Sophomore year, it's fun but not the same. It is definitely one of the highlights of becoming a Dartmouth student when you're a freshman," he added.

Other students look back fondly on their freshman year experiences and cite the range of social events as the focal point of the weekend.

"The highlight of Homecoming is definitely the Saturday of 'Come As You Are,' 'Boones n' Bagels,' and then off to the football game, followed by crazy parties at night," Dai said. "The bonfire is also amazing because if you're up until 4 or 5 a.m., you can roast marshmallows."

Homecoming is not simply limited to students in search of alcohol-induced amusement. Several families attend the bonfire, and the event has become a main attraction for the local community.

"I always get excited for Homecoming because I like fire and the bonfire is just awesome," Theresa Zhou '07 said. "Since I lived in Hanover, I would always make my parents take me, so it's been very much a tradition for me.

"I do always go to the game for a bit, usually about half an hour, and I love the school spirit that is so strongly in the air during Homecoming weekend -- it makes me truly appreciate Dartmouth because very few schools, especially Ivies, have students that love their college so much," Zhou added.

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