Homecoming weekend, which took place Thursday through Sunday provided a chance for many former students of the College to once again walk through campus and Colonial Williamsburg and to reconnect with people from their time at school, prompting one recent alumna from the class of 2009 to exclaim, "It was great! I loved meeting up with people and picking up right where we left off."
Homecoming weekend's main day of events officially kicked off on Saturday morning with the annual parade down Richmond Road, which was presided over by Grand Marshals Joe '52 and Eloise Agee ‘56. Many of the College's student organizations and Greek societies designed floats for the event, which had themes ranging from a Viking sailboat to a rather morbid display of mad scientist experimentation on a prone paper-mache football player.
Saturday morning's parade was a historic one as well, as it represented the first time in history that the event was covered by its very own Twitter page, allowing alumni as far away as Africa to write in and take part in the festivities and prompting a series of eclectic updates on events throughout the weekend. One such tweet by Cory Chapman '11 reads "I'm walking with the Choir float in the Homecoming parade. The colonists look quite confused."
Also in attendance at the parade was a pair of alumni from the class of 1949 who had gone on to marry. They have attended every single homecoming since their graduation. With them this year was their daughter, an alumna of James Madison University, who firmly disagreed with her parent's assertion that William & Mary was a shoe-in for that afternoon's football game.
The former JMU student turned out to be mistaken however, as the Tribe went on to defeat the James Madison Dukes 24-3 and improved their record to 6-1. The sold-out game was clearly the major event of the day according to several alumni, many of whom showed up hours before kickoff to tailgate in front of Zable Stadium.
Audrey Benson '79 was in attendance that afternoon and was quite tickled by the event, saying, "I've never ever been to a sold out William & Mary football game so it was nice to see the stands full."
She also added that the experience was further enhanced for her because "in my day we didn't usually expect the team would win the homecoming game."
In addition to attending the homecoming game, Benson and a number of her classmates from 1979 were invited to an open house at the Williamsburg home of Grammy winning pianist and songwriter Bruce Hornsby, whose wife Kathy -- a member of the Board of Visitors -- was also celebrating her 30th homecoming this year.
"They have a gorgeous home, and it was a really nice setting to have because it had a really warm feel to it," Benson said. "Plus we got to see Bruce's study with all of his Grammys and Gold and Platinum records which was nice, too."
Also of interest this weekend was the plethora of a capella and choral shows being put on by William & Mary's vast array of student vocal groups. Recent Women's Chorus alumna Lauren Estes '09 said that that group's homecoming show was the highlight of her time back on campus.
"At one point a couple of my friends got together and sang a bunch of our old songs from chorus," Estes remarked. "It was really nice and kind of emotional because that was such a great part of being here."
Aside from events happening on campus, one of the highlights of homecoming seemed for many alumni to be the chance to once again visit a local eatery or three. Almost every former student who was out an about this weekend seemed to have a favorite local spot such as the Green Leafe or Nawab, which they were universally excited to patronize once again. Such undying loyalty even resulted in a few friendly arguments between old friends regarding the merits Lenny's marble rye bread or the superiority of the Cheese Shop's ham and Swiss.
While feelings of excitement and nostalgia seemed almost universal this weekend, sentiments about being back on campus ran the gamut from elation to bewilderment. One member of the class of 2007 remarked that she loved being back for homecoming, adding that where she is from is "not nearly as pretty, and so it's great to come back, especially for homecoming because you know other people are going to be there."
A recent graduate from May of this previous spring, however, said that her homecoming had a slightly different and "surreal" flavor to it. Kate Lee '09 remarked that she was driving down to Williamsburg from Northern Virginia when she had an interesting revelation behind the wheel.
"I realized that I'd never been that excited to be going to Williamsburg before," she said. "And yes, it's because homecoming's about being an alumni, and I am now, so homecoming was pretty exciting."