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Homecoming 2013 a winning weekend

  • Welcome home
    Welcome home  An alumna marches in Friday's Homecoming parade down Richmond Road. The annual Homecoming weekend offers a variety of events for W&M students, faculty, staff and alumni as well as community members to enjoy.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Waving to the crowd
    Waving to the crowd  Students wave to the crowd along Richmond Road on Friday during the Homecoming parade.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Distinguished alumnus
    Distinguished alumnus  Chancellor Robert M. Gates '65 and his wife Rebecca took part in Friday's parade. Gates participated in multiple events during Homecoming weekend.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Defending the Tribe
    Defending the Tribe  A student wields a cardboard sword and shield during the Homecoming parade.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • A dragon dance
    A dragon dance  The Confucius Institute represented itself in the parade with a dragon.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Fear the Griffin
    Fear the Griffin  A student dons a paper Griffin head during Friday's activities.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Lambda Alliance
    Lambda Alliance  Students representing Lambda Alliance march in the parade.  Photo by Cindy Baker
  • The next generation
    The next generation  Children cheer for the Tribe along Friday's parade route.  Photo by Cindy Baker
  • Reuniting with friends
    Reuniting with friends  The weekend offered plenty of chances for alumni to reunite and even make new friends.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • T-R-I-B-E
    T-R-I-B-E  W&M cheerleaders get the crowd excited about Saturday's football game against James Madison. The Tribe went on to beat the Dukes 17-7.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • A little pep
    A little pep  The Pep Band also did its part in getting the crowd excited about Saturday's game.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Confident in the Tribe
    Confident in the Tribe  Students show their confidence in the Tribe's ability to beat JMU.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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William & Mary alumni from all over the country gathered on campus Oct. 24-27 for Homecoming 2013, a weekend highlighted by the traditional parties and parade, and non-traditional events like talks by local authors, a “PhysicsFest” and several appearances by Chancellor Robert M. Gates ‘65.

The Tribe football team did its part, thrilling a sellout crowd at Zable Stadium with a smashing 17-7 victory over nationally ranked Colonial Athletic Association rival James Madison University.

In addition to Saturday’s game, alumni, students, faculty, staff and community members were offered a wide range of activities throughout the weekend, and large numbers turned out for “Wrenstock” – a reunion party and concert staged in a large tent on the Sunken Garden – and tailgating prior to the football game.

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Homecoming events began on Thursday with a reception for the Order of the White Jackets, an organization for alumni who worked in food services while at the College, and a talk by author James H. Fowler on the importance of social networks in modern life.

Several alumni golf outings began early Friday morning. Other events that day included the Sundial Speaker Series, featuring John Cosenza ’98 discussing the book Utopia by JC Riles, and the Olde Guarde luncheon, hosted for alumni from the Class of 1963 or before.

But the highlight of the day was the Homecoming parade, led by longtime William & Mary supporter Millie West, this year's Homecoming grand marshal. The parade featured floats created by fraternities, sororities and sports clubs and performances from the W&M Pep Band. Flashy boats, trailers and green-and-gold clad students danced down Richmond Road, passing by fans and, ultimately, a panel of judges stationed at Alumni House.

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Some alumni participated in the parade, bringing their own floats or just walking with banners, rekindling the memories of their days on campus and their W&M experience.

“I think that when I was at William & Mary and I saw earlier (alumni) classes come back, I thought ‘I’ll never be at that point.’ That seemed a long way off,” said Barbara McCoy Powers ’68, a retired medical technician. “I realize that time has gone by very, very quickly. I see a lot of people that I knew at that time, and it’s so great to listen to them and hear their life experiences and share my life experience with them.”

The rallies and tailgating that began Friday only intensified on Saturday, where a plethora of events attracted even more people to campus. A capella concerts, readings from local children’s book authors in Swem Library and even “PhysicsFest,” featuring liquid nitrogen ice cream, drew locals and alumni. People wearing green pins with their years of graduation printed in yellow flooded the brick paths, going to meet old classmates in reunions organized by everything from year of graduation to discipline.

Some alumni, however, elected just to meet up with friends on their own.

Roy Dunn ’82 and a native of Myrtle Beach, S.C., said he and his friends have met every year for Cheese Shop sandwiches on the Sunken Garden during Homecoming since graduating. As a student, he was inspired by seeing a 100-year-old alumni take the field during one Homecoming. He intends to do the same thing himself.

“It really gave me direction,” he said. “You wait: 2060—my butt’s going to be wheeled out on that field for the coin toss!”

Dunn planned to attend the football game that afternoon following a round of tailgating, where the Pep Band, augmented with Pep Band alumni, made the rounds of the Zable Stadium parking lot.

After the game, concerts continued late into the night, and a number of brunches and meetings lasted until Sunday afternoon.

Overall, for many alumni, the return to campus was an emotional reconnection with a memorable four years.

“I get tingly all over every time I come back here,” Dave Fiscella ’71 said. “It never fails. This place means so much to me.”

Jim Ducibella contributed to this story.