People lined the sidewalks and brick walls of Richmond Road on Friday afternoon, readying their green and gold pom poms and craning their necks to look down the empty street for any signs of the William & Mary Homecoming parade.
“I think it’s going to be a good one,” said Buddy Carver ’62, as he sat at the corner of Richmond Road and Stadium Drive, waiting to cheer on his wife Jennifer ’76, and her College roommate as they participated in the parade.
Finally, the brilliant blues and reds of a police light were seen twinkling in the distance and the notes of an unseen marching band began floating through the air. A few minutes later, the parade began passing by, filled with floats, tiger costumes, banners, bands and -- most importantly – students, alumni and community members.
The parade kicked off the College’s annual Homecoming weekend, which offered the William & Mary family both traditional events as well as some new opportunities for alumni, students and others to reunite with old friends and make new ones.
Homecoming began with several events on Thursday, including a reception for alumni who worked in food service while at William & Mary and an alumni reception at the Muscarelle Museum, featuring its new exhibit, “Seeing Colors: Secrets of the Impressionists.”
Early Friday, the events continued with a golf tournament, tennis tournament, and Olde Guarde luncheon. That afternoon, several academic departments held open houses and receptions before the Homecoming parade began at 4:30 p.m. The parade began by William & Mary Hall and worked its way through part of the campus before finally coming up Richmond Road.
Though not an alumna of the College, Andy Ross found a seat along Richmond Road to watch the parade because her son, Austin, was performing in it as part of the Berkeley Middle School marching band.
“He is very excited,” said Ross, who also brought along Austin’s younger brother, sister, best friend, and best friend’s sister. “They are going to play ‘Thriller,’ so he’s been practicing for the past couple of weeks.”
In previous years, the Homecoming parade was held on Saturday mornings and followed a different route. However, this year, the Alumni Association moved the parade to Friday afternoon, followed by a pep rally and block party.
“I love it,” said Katherine Mize ’12, who participated in the parade with her sorority Kappa Delta. “I think the parade has always been at 8 a.m., and we never knew why, and it was just really hard.”
Becca Gildea ’12 agreed.
“I think I’ve seen a lot more enthusiasm by both the students and the alumni,” she said. “And I think it’s nice that there’s one area where it’s very central. This is blocked off and you know you can find people here. So I think this is a great idea.”
The Homecoming events continued on Saturday morning with a 5k and a coffee event with President Taylor Reveley.
On Saturday afternoon, the Hulon Willis Association (HWA) held its annual reception. This year, the association honored the College’s first black residential and first black female students -- Lynn Briley, Janet Brown Strafer and Karen Ely – on the 40th anniversary of their graduation from William & Mary.
Other events throughout the day included open houses at various academic departments, a picnic, and sorority and fraternity open houses.
Mize and Gildea said they loved getting a chance to meet some of the older alumni and seeing recently graduated friends back on campus.
“It’s really exciting to have them around again,” said Mize.
Also on Saturday, the stadium parking lot was filled as alumni enjoyed perfect tailgating weather before the football game between the Tribe and Towson University. Unfortunately, a campus full of Tribe Pride wasn’t quite enough to help the football team overtake Towson Saturday afternoon. The Tribe fell to the Tigers, 38-27.
But, in the end, it wasn’t the football game, the parade or any of the other events that were really important to many of the alumni and students – those were all just catalysts for them to meet with friends, share memories, and show their Tribe Pride.
For Chris Collins ’05 MACC, that meant breaking out the green and gold argyle, Loud Mouth brand shorts he bought just for William & Mary occasions.
“I saw (golfer John Daly) wearing these pants in a picture online and I was like, ‘I’ve gotta have these pants,’” Collins said.
The shorts are what led Dusty Einseln ’84 to become friends with Collins at a William & Mary event in Washington, D.C.
“He was sitting at another table, and I was like, ‘I have to sit next to him,’” she said. “Now we’re friends because he has a great sense of humor -- obviously, anyone (does) who can wear those pants.”
Though this is the first time that Collins has returned to campus for Homecoming, Einseln has returned every year since her 20th reunion. She said she loves just running into old friends during the weekend.
“It’s the only time I can see my best friend from college, and we make it a girls’ weekend. It’s fun,” she said.
Einseln said on Friday that she was looking forward to seeing how some of the new events and schedules went.
“It’s going to be interesting because it’s a whole new variety of things going on at different times, different schedules, which is kind of breaking up the monotony for us,” she said.
“You’ve got to change it up every once in a while.”
To help the William & Mary community remember the new day and time for the parade, the Alumni Association created a video featuring a capella group One Accord singing “Friday,” a song by previously unknown singer Rebecca Black that went viral on YouTube earlier this year.
William & Mary community members also took to other forms of social media – including Facebook and Twitter – during the weekend to share their experiences, or, if they were unable to make it back to Williamsburg for homecoming, experience a little of the fun from afar.
Twitter user @doinaanca on tweeted, “wishing @williamandmary @WMNews a fabulous homecoming weekend from switzerland...tribe pride!!! :)”
Mary Kay Baker ‘12, who participated in the Homecoming parade with the pep band dressed as a tiger, said she enjoys Homecoming weekend because “all my friends come back.”
“I have a lot of alumni friends, so it’s nice to just hang out with everybody again, and the football game is fun,” she said. “It’s a good weekend. It’s a nice break from the monotony of work, school.”
Baker said that participating in her last Homecoming parade as a student was “bittersweet.”
“But, I’ll be back next year,” she vowed.