This past weekend, the University of Massachusetts Amherst was full of life as we welcomed backed alumni for Homecoming Weekend. This year, the Class of 1969 also celebrated their 50th Reunion. All weekend, UMass Amherst alumni proudly strolled around campus sporting UMass Amherst gear, and attended the various events hosted by the university. When passing a group of older alumni, I jokingly mentioned to my friend how that’d be us one day. It was amazing to see the large turnout of alumni that came back for homecoming weekend, ranging from the class of 1969 to 2018. It just goes to show just how connected and loyal UMass Amherst alumni still are to the school!
Friday night, the Homecoming Block Party kicked off the weekend festivities. During this event, alumni, family, and friends gathered on the Student Union and Goodell lawn by the Old Chapel to celebrate and reconnect. The block party featured numerous activities, including: roasting s'mores by the fire pits, listening to “The Neighbors” perform live, or watching Bloodsport, the combat robot featured on Discovery Channel’s show Battlebots.
The festivities of the block party caught the attention of me and my friends as we walked back from the Dynamics Halloween Concert. We stopped by to toast marshmallows and make s’mores by the firepit. A seemingly small portion of the event, but an enjoyable one nonetheless.
Another special event held Friday night was the Diwali celebration. Located in Worcester Dining Hall, the Diwali Festival of Lights featured an assortment of authentic South Asian cuisine. A group of my friends attended the event, later raving about the food and describing their mounding heaps of curry and naan deliciousness.
Saturday morning started bright and early with the Revolution Run Homecoming 5K, a yearly tradition at UMass Amherst. The race started near Memorial Hall, through Southwest, looping around the stadium before finishing back at Memorial Hall. Proceeds from the event went to support Campus Recreation. My dorm window, located on the 3rd floor of Thoreau Hall in Southwest Residential Area, happened to be the perfect spot to watch the runners run by.
The Homecoming Parade, another yearly UMass Amherst tradition, departed from McGuirk Alumni Stadium making its way downtown. The parade included Sam the Minuteman, along with the UMass Marching Band, and floats and displays created by UMass students.
Following the parade at 1 p.m., members of the UMass Amherst community gathered for the Homecoming Tailgate next to McGuirk. The tailgate atmosphere was full of energy as family and friends held barbeques, and danced to the blasting music. Around 1:15, my friends and I followed the massive hoards of students heading down to the tailgate area. At the tailgate we formed a large circle, dancing and singing along to the music. My boyfriend, who came down from University of Vermont, described the event as “a giant mosh pit, but way less crowded and way more fun.”
The tailgate was my favorite event of Homecoming, as it really embraced the school spirit and pride of all members of the UMass Amherst community. Families, alumni, students, and friends all had a place in the tailgate, whether that was barbequing in the lot or dancing to the music in the midst of the crowd. The members of the crowd were decked out in maroon and white, sporting all types of Minuteman clothing and gear.
The excitement carried over to the football game against University of Connecticut. The Minutemen fought hard, with the final score against the Huskies being 35-56.
Homecoming at UMass Amherst was much different from my high school’s homecoming events. Back in high school, the last week of October leading up to Halloween was our school’s “Spirit Week.” Spirit Week consisted of different themed dress up days, and competitions throughout the week between each grade. High school homecoming was wrapped up with schoolwide Homecoming Dance held the Saturday after Halloween.
At UMass Amherst, homecoming was a weekend event, starting on Friday and wrapping up on Saturday. While I did miss the friendly competition between the grades and daily dress up themes, the school spirit was just as strong, if not stronger, at UMass Amgerst. Our homecoming wasn’t just about the current student body, but also a way to celebrate the alumni and was inclusive of all alumni, family, and friends. The UMass community certainly showed their school pride, and while the festivities may have only lasted the weekend, the memories made were timeless.