Back in the day, football used to be the main focus of Homecoming celebrations on college campuses. But thanks to ambitious programming by the Duke Alumni Association, a gridiron showdown was only one of dozens of activities that this year’s Homecoming participants could choose from.
On the last weekend in September, more than 3,200 alumni and friends—about twice as many people as last year—came back to Duke, and their biggest challenge was deciding how to pack in all there was to do.
Traditional Homecoming activities—a rousing pep rally, pregame tailgating, painting the East-West bridge—proved enduringly popular. Sports fans may have been disappointed over Duke’s loss to Army on the football field, but they found reasons to cheer as the women’s field hockey team defeated the University of Richmond, and the men’s soccer team won a match against Boston College.
Educational opportunities ran the gamut. Panel discussions explored the environmental implications of our reliance on oil and Duke’s global ambitions and impact. Curators in the Rare Book Room shared treasures from the library’s collections, including first editions of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
Entertainment options included the annual National Pan-Hellenic Council Step Show, several Duke Performances concerts, the Nasher Museum of Art’s current exhibitions, and a screening of the in-progress documentary Starting at the Finish Line: The Coach Buehler Story.
There were also special events for members of the Half-Century Club (alumni who graduated in 1960 or earlier), Duke Black Alumni, Duke Chorale, volunteer leaders, and former track-and-field athletes.
On Friday night, alumni were joined by current students for the lively revelry of the President’s Dance. More than 5,000 partygoers packed into the IM Building and the gym in the Wilson Recreation Center, which had been transformed into party venues featuring performances by various Blue Devil dance and a capella groups.
The nine-member dance band Simply Irresistible closed out the evening with a performance that kept the dance floor full into the wee hours of the morning.