My Top Penn List: Memories of Homecoming 2011

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

Homecoming this year was amazing.  The fall weekend was glorious with its bright light blue sky slightly dusted with clouds and the crispy cool air keeping any rain at bay.  The combination of great weather and engaging programming drew record numbers of alumni back home to Penn.  There is my list highlighting some of the incredible events from this past weekend.

10.          Pre-Game Coming Home Tribute: From Penn to Princeton — A Dedication to Lenape Land.

Penn and Princeton reside on Lenape soil and to pay tribute to their ancestors, the Association of Native Alumni and Natives at Penn came together for a touching ceremony honoring their land home.  The attendees found it poignant that this observance was held on the newest use of Lenape land, Penn Park.

9.            77th Annual Alumni Award of Merit Gala

The event to kick-off the Homecoming Weekend festivities, the Gala is the formal hallmark event of Homecoming.   President Amy Gutmann and Board of Trustees Chair, David Cohen, L’81, paid tribute to the following outstanding alumni, classes and club in a black and white game-themed party that accentuated the many years of love and appreciate that these alumni have for Penn.

  • Edward Anderson, C’65, M’69;
  • Susanna Lachs, CW’74, ASC’76;
  • Mae Agnes Pasquariello, CW’53, GRD’85;
  • Roy Vagelos, C’50; and
  • Paul Williams, W’67
  • Calvin Chen, C’97, W’97, Young Alumni Award of Merit
  • Catherine “Kaki” Marshall, CW’45, Creative Spirit Award
  • Class of 1986, Alumni Class Award of Merit
  • Class Award of Merit; Class of 2006, David N. Tyre Class Communications Award
  • PennClub of LA, Alumni Club Award of Merit.

    Festive decor at the Gala.

8.            Alumnus Stefan Fatsis, C’85, Celebrates the Creative Powers of Scrabble.

As Words with Friends takes over everyone smart phones, it’s refreshing to take a moment and recall the tiled game that started our love affair with making words.  Fatsis and follow alumni enjoyed a lively special discussion in celebration of the tenth anniversary release of his bestselling book, Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players.

7.            Alumni Bacchanal/Platt Fifth Anniversary Party

Those in the performing arts at Penn recall the annual Bacchanal, the end of the year costume party, fondly.  Capturing those memories, the Platt Student Performing Arts House invited alumni back to revel in the boisterous Alumni Bacchanal to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Performing Arts’ newest home on campus.

Platt House 5 Years at the Alumni Bacchanal

6.            Free-at-Noon Concert featuring Frank Turner

WXPN’s weekly “Free-at-Noon” concert at World Cafe Live featured Frank Turner. Turner is an English folk/punk singer-songwriter from Meonstoke, Winchester and formally the lead vocalist of post-hardcore band Million Dead. His musical style seems to be counter to his upbringing – educated on a scholarship at Eton College and studied alongside Prince William. Yet, his current directions are now acoustic-based which have critics calling his work “a fearless venture for an artist with something interesting to say.”

For the “Free-at-Noon” concert in its entirety, visit NPR: here.

5.            Feature Film Screening: Thunder Soul Presented by the Penn Alumni Film Festival

The pinnacle of Penn’s newest Homecoming tradition, the Penn Alumni Film Festival, this feature film did not disappoint. Jamie Foxx’s rousing documentary tells the story of Conrad O. Johnson, a music teacher at a predominantly black high school in Houston. Johnson replaced the mundane standards that students of the Kashmere Stage Band were learning to play with contemporary funk, jazz, and original compositions. He not only got their attention and their active participation in class, he changed their lives forever.

A darkened auditorium watching Thunder Soul

4.            Old Guard Brunch

This is the perennial favorite event for those in Alumni Relations and alumni alike.  Our distinguished alumni who have passed their 50th reunion are invited to this buffet brunch.  Our staff is enchanted by the stories of the Woodland Avenue Trolley, Althea Kratz Hottel, the Mungermen, and Rowbottoms, told so vividly by our alumni that they could have happened yesterday.  Fellow alumni are always excited to see and catch up with old friends as welling as making a new one along the way.  The gathering always ends with festive singing and cheering before folks head over to the game.

Our revered alumni enjoying each other’s company

3.            QuakerFest

The weather couldn’t have been better on this perfect fall day.  Music filled College Green and tents for food and tables for groups to meet up dotted Blanche Levy Park.  Partnered with the Penn Alumni Arts Fair, QuakerFest was the place to be to tailgate before kickoff. In time for the game, the Quaker mascot joined the crowd to lead alumni and friends to Franklin Field!

College Green full of Penn Pride

2.            Taste of Penn: A Global Celebration

Taste of Penn is the flagship festival of the Penn Alumni Diversity Alliance. This year’s party was a tour de force celebrating Penn’s cultural diversity – accentuating its global scope.  Complete with a globe centerpiece with all roads leading to Philadelphia, alumni and friends danced to hip-hop, rock, reggae, salsa, and pop as well as enjoying the flavors from these rich cultural identities in savory entrees and refreshing cocktails.

Peruvian courtship dance by Cynthia Paniagua, who the subject of “Soy Andina,” directed by Mitch Teplitsky, W'80, and featured in this Homecoming’s Penn Alumni Film Festival

1.            Penn Football:  Homecoming Game vs. Princeton

We have a saying in Alumni Relations, “Homecoming isn’t just about the game, but it IS about the game.”  This is always the biggest draw for the weekend. Alumni and friends travel from New York, Washington, Boston, and beyond to be back in Franklin Field and cheer on our football team. The Quakers Homecoming victory over the Tigers continues to give Pennsylvania the chance of being Ivy Champs this year.  It was a thrilling match up, but thankfully, a definitive win, which fueled our hope for another Ivy Title.

Below, you can view for yourself the post game  press conference given by head coach Al Bagnoli, wideout Ryan Calvert, C’12, and linebacker Erik Rask, W’12,  held to celebrate the Quaker’s fifth straight win over Princeton.

Thanks to everyone who returned and we hope to see you back on campus for Alumni Weekend 2012, May 11-14!

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1 Comment

Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Alumni Weekend, Campus Life, Casey R., Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture, Penn Park, Top Ten, WXPN

One response to “My Top Penn List: Memories of Homecoming 2011

  1. Great photos! Especially the one of Thunder Soul. I love the audience in silhouette.

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