W&M Homecoming 2016: revisiting the best times, creating new ones

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Tribe fans line the street for the Homecoming Parade on Friday. Photo by Stephen Salpukas

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For Mary Mainous ’86, coming back to Williamsburg for Homecoming is a good excuse to visit the university and town that hold a special place in her heart.

“This is such a special place to me and not just because I went to college here, although that makes it extra special,” she said. “But, I love Williamsburg so much. It’s just a beautiful place and I love to come back. This is just a good excuse.”

A biology major now living in Christiansburg, Virginia, Mainous said her favorite part of Homecoming, however, was seeing the people.

And Oct. 13-16 was indeed all about the people, as William & Mary alumni came from near and far to participate in a Homecoming weekend. The highlights of the weekend included the leadership symposium and Homecoming Parade on Friday, the dedication of Lemon and Hardy Halls and the Tribe football game against Delaware on Saturday and numerous class reunions throughout the weekend.

In addition to well-known traditions, events included a sunset ceremony honoring alumni who died in the last year, the Virginia Uncorked Festival, the Saturday Night Bash and the Children’s Carnival and Wrenstock.

On Friday, however, former W&M Rector Michael Powell ’85, D.P.S. ’02 and Jane Knott Powell ’85 kicked off the ceremonial start of Homecoming as grand marshals of the parade for spectators of all ages. William "Bill" Schermerhorn ’82, former vice president and creative director at Macy’s Parade and Entertainment Group, helped produce this year's parade and greeted participants as they started their journey down Richmond Road. Consisting of a great medley of floats put together by various student organizations, fraternities, sororities and music ensembles, spectators and participants came together in a grand spectacle of comradery and Tribe pride.

Following the parade on Friday afternoon, the Homecoming spirit continued to fill the air all along Richmond Road as tailgating began and spilled over into Saturday in preparation for the Tribe football game against the Delaware Blue Hens. The festive atmosphere only intensified at the conclusion of the game on Saturday, which W&M won 24-17 after a rallying comeback in the fourth quarter.

However, for sisters Pat Burton ’74 and Marilyn Sanderlin Harris ’81, the weekend was mostly about reconnecting with the people, school and town they both love. In fact, it could almost be considered a part of their family legacy.

“We went here, and our dad went here, class of ’49,” said Harris.

Burton and Harris were far from being the only two hoping to reconnect this Homecoming weekend though. Sarah Mays Passard, Grant and Kathryn Antaramian and Ellen Griffith Spears, four friends and alumni in the class of 1971, were among the numbers fondly remembering the years spent at W&M.

Passard reflected on her time at W&M and what keeps bringing her back every Homecoming.

“It was the best time of our lives,” she said.

Ellen Spears and Kathryn Antaramian shared this nostalgia.

“We went through a lot together and want to see each other,” said Spears.

Antaramian echoed that sentiment, revealing what Homecoming is ultimately about.

“We always have our class,” she said.