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Dreary skies don’t stop good times for alumni

Forget about the gloomy skies and intermittent drizzle – all was bright and sunny at Homecoming.

On a different kind of day, with sun blazing and temperatures balmy, the annual tailgate party and clam bake is held in mostly open air, in the parking lots and the grassy areas around Fisher Field where alumni representing several generations of Lafayette students gather to renew old friendships and make new ones.

But Saturday the gathering had to make do with the prevailing conditions. Instead of basking in the sun, alumni huddled under a tent. Instead of hanging out on top of the parking deck, they gathered below, using the covered area to protect the wide variety of food on which they munched.

No one seemed to mind.

“We always have a good time,” said Al Alvarez ’63. “We come back for all the football games.”

“We always know people here,” added his wife, Sandie Chatfield. “It’s kind of a different experience. We always enjoy Homecoming.”

Alumni affairs provided a wide array of typical tailgate staples. There were hot dogs and veggie burgers, pasta and pierogies, clams, baked beans, and soups. Cars, minivans, and SUVs lined the rows under the parking deck and each seemed to have their own take on tailgating. Some had hoagies, others had meatballs and soft pretzels, while still others munched on various dips and more eclectic fare.

What they all had in common was an enjoyment of the Homecoming experience.

“This was the best time of my life,” Michael Moroney ’83 said of his years at Lafayette. “I come back here trying to recapture a little bit of it.”

“They were good to me,” he continued while holding a plateful of food. “They gave me an opportunity to come here that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.”

Homecoming this year also was a little different as it preceded a night game, something still relatively new since the lights were installed at the football stadium.

“We weren’t sure at first,” Melissa Mitchell Pizarro ’03 said of the new schedule. “But now it gives us a little more time to hang out.”

She and husband Derek Pizarro ’03 may be relative newcomers at Homecoming tailgating compared to older alumni, but it’s quickly become a tradition for them that will last for many years ahead.

“We met here,” Derek Pizarro said. “We call it the annual tailgate.”

Down the parking garage aisle a ways was Robert Jeffrey ’56, who, safe to say, has seen a few more Homecomings than the Pizarros.

“This place made me who I am in my life,” Jeffrey said.

“These are the friendliest people I have ever met,” said his companion, Barbara Marr. “They’re all so happy, courteous.”

For many of the alumni it was a chance to come back and participate in groups that carry on extracurricular activities begun while they were still in college.

Robert Jacob ’74 sang a few bars with an alumni singing group while enjoying the Homecoming festivities. He returned with his wife, Dee Bradbury Jacob ’74, to the place they met and began their lives together.

“We like coming back to see our friends and the educational programs, and the fact that we met here,” Robert Jacob said.

Alumni also liked the outcome of the football game, a 24-17 victory over Penn. A few of the many other happenings of the day were reunions of several fraternities, track and field alumni, and Arts Society alumni; the dedication of a sculpture honoring David K. McDonogh 1844, the College’s first African American graduate; and alumni baseball and lacrosse games.

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