Homecoming 2016 - Campus, Game, and Weather Set Stage for Class Gathering

By Howard Zien '71, Class Treasurer
Photo credit: Howard Zien

I have been to enough homecoming weekends to know what the ingredients are that make the weekend successful.

1. The opportunity to return to Campus and be reminded of the sights, sounds and smells of 45 years ago.

2. The return of like-minded friends, classmates, significant others and friends who return for very much the same reason.

3. A victorious or exciting football game -- preferably both.

4. Beautiful sunny weather so we can relax and enjoy the gentle autumn air.

This year, we were able to tick off the first three with no difficulty.

The Campus

The campus looks as good as ever. It doesn't look a day over 270 years. Though I must admit there are so many new buildings that it can be a bit disorienting to still believe I spent four years there. One thing that hasn't changed: in Princeton even the trees look wise.

The Turnout

The turnout this year was a bit less than prior years (This was due to item 4, the inclement weather, which we shall get to shortly). But it always seems that what a smaller turn out sacrifices in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. The 71-ers who attended, myself included, had the opportunity to converse in more depth and length than we otherwise might have. I am sure all our classmates felt as I did, grateful for the opportunity to reconnect in more depth and make new friendships , than we would at a heavily attended event.

The turnout at Tiger Inn after the game was mellow indeed. Everyone was thrilled to be there and to be inside the warmth of the '71 library.

The Game

And speaking of the game, it met every expectation. In recent years, the schools and teams of the Ivy League marvel at the quality of the teams that Harvard is able to assemble. The beginning of the game seemed like a Harvard route. But Princeton, with resolve, was able to tie the game and take it to overtime. Unfortunately, it was in overtime that the game was decided. And not in Princeton's favor.

At the time, relatively early in the season, this seemed like an event of little consequence. Now 3 weeks later, Harvard is undefeated and Princeton has but one loss. Turns out that the outcome on Homecoming Day had significance that may span the entire season.

The Weather

Now we discuss the most prominent aspect of the weekend, at least Saturday --The weather. First, let me provide some context. In Princeton and the northeast we have been experiencing a magnificent autumn, with sunny skies and temperatures frequently in the 70's. And the Sunday immediately after homecoming Saturday, this weather returned.

But on Saturday, there was the first chill of autumn accompanied by wind and rain. The pre-game University-wide tailgate in the courtyard between Fine Hall and Palmer Stadium. has become a cherished tradition, with the University providing food and drink to all who attend. Since the event is held the courtyard which is in the open air so it was it was surprising for those of us who did attend how many naturally covered spaces there are in this open plaza. And they were all put to good use during the tail gate by the enterprising food services staff.

At the stadium, it was a challenge to keep umbrellas from snapping inside out. But the game was extremely well attended and the Princeton students and fans were totally immersed in the game and its, at first surprising, but ultimately slightly disappointing outcome.

What else to do but retire to Tiger Inn for the class reception. As important as football was moments ago, it gave way to warm greetings, warmer memories, talk of our magnificent reunion and life at large.

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