Homecoming Marks Dartmouth’s Birthday, Rekindles Friendships

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Special this year: a giant cake and a class asking the question, “Is Dartmouth a religion?”

The bonfire lights up the night at last year's homecoming.
The bonfire lights up the night at last year’s homecoming. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

Next weekend, as fall foliage peaks and migratory birds fly southward, alumni are flocking, in many cases, northward, for homecoming. First introduced in 1895 by then-President William Jewett Tucker, the celebration will be packed with activities for  students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community guests of all ages. 

Always a cherished tradition, homecoming weekend takes on special meaning this year, the College’s 250th anniversary.

Beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11—Dartmouth Night—the College community is invited to a pre-parade celebration with seasonal refreshments at the DARToberfest tent on the lawn of Alumni Gym. President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 and Gail Gentes will lead the parade to the Green, with alumni marching by class year and sports teams riding in cars.

After performances by the marching band and the glee club will come remarks by President Hanlon, Vice President for Alumni Relations Cheryl Bascomb ’82, Alumni Council President Alec Casey ’88, Athletic Director Harry Sheehy, two student team captains, and Donald Pease, the Ted and Helen Geisel Third Century Professor in the Humanities and co-chair of Dartmouth’s 250th anniversary celebration.

The Class of 2023, many wearing Dartmouth regalia and green face paint, will arrive on the Green, having been “swept”—gathered from each house community—by members of the Green Key Society.  

This year is especially sweet. A 7-foot-long birthday cake in the shape of Dartmouth Row will be cut as part of the traditional bonfire ceremony. A photo station will be placed at the northeast side of the Green, allowing students to photograph themselves with the bonfire in the background.

As in past years, the College has a plan in place to keep students and others safe around the bonfire. Students are expected not to touch the fire or encourage others to touch the fire. Students who attempt to touch the fire will face disciplinary action. The continuation of the bonfire in future years depends on everyone’s adherence to the safety guidelines.

Also this weekend, buildings surrounding the Green will light up and change colors when members of the Class of 2023 make their entrance to the bonfire. The special effects will last all weekend.

On Saturday morning, as part of the sestercentennial’s Call to Serve project, volunteers are invited to Room 007 at Kemeny Hall to assemble bags of nonperishable food items for donation to Upper Valley residents in need. 

Throughout the weekend, classmates will gather all over campus for mini-reunions.

For a full listing of all the 2019 homecoming events, visit the Dartmouth Alumni website.

Homecoming Highlights

Friday, Oct. 11

  • 2 p.m.–“Navigating College Admissions,” in the Hood Museum of Art’s Gilman Auditorium, a talk by Lee Coffin, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, about factors shaping candidacy for admission  
  • 4 p.m.–“History and Traditions of Dartmouth,” starting at the Blunt Alumni Center, a student-led walk around the Dartmouth Green focusing on Dartmouth’s history and traditions. 
  • 4 p.m.–Film Screening: Early Daughters of Dartmouth: Blazing the Trail to Coeducation, Filene Auditorium, Moore Hall

Saturday, Oct. 12

  • 9 a.m.–Intergenerational breakfast with Women of Dartmouth, Common Ground, Collis Center for Student Involvement
  • 10 a.m. “Back to Class: Is Dartmouth a Religion?” In Alumni Hall, Hopkins Center for the Arts, Preston H. Kelsey Professor of Religion Susan Ackerman ’80 will explore whether the theories and methods used in religious studies might successfully be applied to Dartmouth’s campus culture, its rich ritual traditions, and its sensibilities regarding community building and social cohesiveness. 
  • 1:30 p.m.–Big Green meets Yale Bulldogs at Memorial Field, and Wearers of the Green will be honored in annual ceremony.

Charlotte Albright can be reached at charlotte.e.albright@dartmouth.edu.

Charlotte Albright