Sandy can't dampen Homecoming spirits at W&M

  • Welcome home
    Welcome home  Students wave to spectators from a decorated trolley during the 2012 Homecoming parade.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Homecoming parade
    Homecoming parade  Members of the Queens' Guard march next to the Crim Dell during the Homecoming Parade.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Sleep tight
    Sleep tight  A parade float references the Tribe's Homecoming football game opponent, the Maine Black Bears.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Parade pep
    Parade pep  Members of the Pep Band march in the Homecoming parade.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Most interesting
    Most interesting  Hundreds of these shirts, which are a play on the Dos Equis "most interesting man in the world" advertisements, were distributed during the parade.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Wrenstock
    Wrenstock  Alumni mill around the Sunken Garden, where "Wrenstock" -- which featured alumni bands -- took place.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Tailgate
    Tailgate  Alumni and other W&M community members fill the Sunken Garden for the all-alumni and class reunion tailgate.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Tribe football
    Tribe football  The Tribe football team takes the field for the Saturday afternoon football game.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Tribe fans
    Tribe fans  Alumni, students, faculty and staff members cheered on the Tribe as they faced the Maine Black Bears.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Fan faces
    Fan faces  Two little Tribe fans watch the game in anticipation.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Go, Tribe
    Go, Tribe  Students react to a play during the game on Saturday afternoon.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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Even the lumbering approach of a monster hurricane dubbed “Frankenstorm” couldn’t keep William & Mary alumni away from the university’s Homecoming weekend.

The annual event, which was held Oct. 25-28, offered a variety of activities for alumni, as well as current students, faculty, staff and community members. Although the approach of Hurricane Sandy caused some events to be scaled back, relocated or cancelled, the weekend was still full of chances for W&M people to reconnect with old friends, meet new ones and enjoy the university together.

Friday’s events included the new Sundial Speaker Series, which provided attendees a chance to hear lectures on topics including humor and politics or do something a little less academic, like indulge in a beer or scotch tasting.

The Homecoming parade was once again held on Friday afternoon. A long line of floats, bands and even a couple of boats started its procession near William & Mary Hall and wound its way through the campus before finally taking a lap down Richmond Road.

{{youtube:medium:left|o4A7riz96sU, Scenes from the Homecoming Parade}}

Multiple alumni and student groups participated in the parade, holding banners, wearing costumes and riding on floats that took jabs at the Maine Black Bears, whom the Tribe football team would face on Saturday.

The parade’s spectators were also treated to performances by dance groups and bands, including the W&M Pep Band, whose members donned distinctive green-and-gold striped shirts.

But those weren’t the most popular shirts at the parade. The W&M Alumni Association created a special shirt for the parade based on the Dos Equis commercials about “the most interesting man in the world.” The shirt features a picture of W&M President Taylor Reveley and the words, “I don’t always hark, but when I do, it’s upon the gale.”

Hundreds of the sought-after shirts were distributed to the throngs of spectators who lined streets to see the parade.

Ted Wynn ’91, his wife Kris and their 11-month-old daughter, Kat, were among that crowd. This was the first Homecoming weekend that Wynn, who recently moved to northern Virginia from the west coast, has attended in more than 10 years.

He said he decided to attend in order to reconnect with some people from the university and to introduce his daughter to William & Mary.

“We actually went to the bookstore and got her some green and gold,” he said. “We’re training her up. Who knows maybe she’ll choose to follow in her dad’s footsteps here.”

Following the parade, a pep rally and block party were held for alumni like Wynn as well as students, faculty, staff and community members.

{{youtube:medium:left|xdmn4Mqi3iE, Scenes from the pep rally}}

Sophomore Kameron Melton helped set up the pep rally and was excited to see how it would go as she made final preparations for the event Friday afternoon.

“Last year, I didn’t really get as involved in Homecoming as I wanted to, so I am really excited to see everything,” she said. “I love all the commotion here. It’s really exciting to see everyone here in their green and gold.”

That infusion of green and gold on campus only increased on Saturday as more and more alumni arrived at their alma mater to participate in a multitude of events, including receptions for academics departments and other organizations. Many alumni also took some time during the day to just walk around the College, remembering good times and familiarizing themselves with changes to campus.

Leonard Milo ’02 and Christina Vitug ’00 paused by the sundial outside of Swem Library to take a photo on Saturday afternoon while walking through campus with friends.

“I just wanted to see how the campus has changed and what stayed the same,” said Milo. “It is a good time to get together with people you haven’t seen for a while. Of course, you are always part of this family, so I just wanted to come back to see how everyone was doing.”

As Saturday progressed, the Sunken Garden filled with people for the all-alumni and class reunion tailgate as well as “Wrenstock,” which featured alumni bands. Soon after, it was a rainy Zable Stadium that was filled as the Tribe prepared to take on Maine. But, in the end, the Black Bears got the win, beating the Tribe 24-10.

Despite that loss, the festive mood returned to campus a few hours later for the Saturday Night Bash and Ra Ra Riot concert, which were both moved indoors because of rain.

By Sunday, Hurricane Sandy demanded the attention of campus, and all activities after noon were cancelled. Classes were also cancelled on Monday as rain and wind from the storm pelted the area.

Although the threat of Sandy hung over campus all weekend, many alumni said it wasn’t enough to keep them away from their alma mater.

Kathy Fitzsimmons ’87, a high school teacher in Neptune, N.J., and her husband said that although the hurricane was on their minds, they wouldn’t miss Homecoming weekend.

“It’s wonderful; we love to do it,” she said. “For a while there, I hadn’t missed a Homecoming. I was trying to set the record.”

Fitzsimmons said that her favorite part of Homecoming weekend is just walking through campus, reminiscing and connecting with old friends – including professors and two of her own former students who are now undergraduates at the College.

William & Mary is Fitzsimmons’ “other family,” she said.

“It’s made you the person that you are today,” she said. “For better or for worse, it did. And, for me, I think better. But it’s the institution, the group of people who made you who you are, so I enjoy coming back to visit my other family.”