Sunday, May 29, 2005
[Warning: This post will be extremely tedious -- and perhaps offensive -- if you didn't go to Princeton. Sorry. My blog.]
It is Reunions weekend at Princeton, and graduating seniors are the only undergraduates left on campus. There are, however, countless thousands of alumni and their families swarming the campus in orange and black. Why families? Princeton Reunions are very much a family affair, for what kid doesn't enjoy dressing up in a costume, seeing his parents in costumes, and marching in a parade? Or, as we say, a P-Rade.
In order to have a P-Rade, you have to muster a P-Rade. The oldest classes, plus the 25th reunion class, gather by their posts in front of Nassau Hall.
The younger classes muster behind Nassau Hall on Cannon Green, and then along the road that cuts through the campus past Jadwin Gym, Cuyler, Patton and so forth. The classes in the rear begin the P-Rade, starting with the Princeton University marching band, the 25th reunion class and the "Old Guard" -- the last surviving alumni from the oldest extant classes. These classes march past the gathered alumni from oldest to youngest, with each successive class folding into the P-Rade at the end. The graduating seniors line the last leg of the parade route, cheer every class that has preceeded them, and then form up behind the youngest alumni. For me and perhaps most alumni, the "graduation" of the seniors into the ranks of the alumni at the end of the P-Rade was and remains more emotional than the actual commencement on Tuesday afternoon, when the old grads are long gone and all that remain are the clueless parents.
It is hokey as the day is long, but as a goofball ceremony to build loyalty among the alumni, there is nothing quite like it. Where else can you see a dog dressed up like a tiger?
Our house was crowded with returning alumni this year. It was an "off year" for me by any measure -- even our gung-ho class doesn't turn out in force for the 22nd reunion -- but my mother and stepfather ('56) turned out and marched with great style. Yes, that t-shirt does in fact date from the late 1950s. Princeton alumni collectively own the world's largest inventory of vintage orange clothing.
The TigerHawk sister, entomologist extraordinaire and unofficial scientific advisor to this blog, returned for her 15th reunion. The class of 1990 adopted a firefighter motif, complete with very high quality black canvas coats with orange reflectors. They were extremely sweaty while the sun was out, but when the rain came pouring down later in the day the Class of 1990 was ready.
The graduating seniors were, of course, very pumped. I should also say that their "beer jackets" are very tasteful, which is itself quite unusual. Each graduating class designs its own beer jacket for graduation and subsequent reunions costumes, so look for the Class of 2005 to set a standard of stylishness for years to come.
Finally, the tiny delegation from the great Class of 1983 formed up in front of our class banner, our ranks swelled by children and other hangers-on. Your blogger is in the front, kneeling.
Offensive? The P-rade?
I'll probably enjoy it a bit more once I've gotten older -- it takes too long once you get to the younger folks. :-) But it is an amazing sight to see.
Trust that Reunions has treated all Princetonians well. Shall make it next year, when I'm back Stateside.
Fun report. The P-Rade is a great event, for its orange-and-black regalia, for the Old Guard, for little kids and for the sheer ability to catch up with old friends while watching it. I had a great time, but as fun as it was, it's never moved me the way my local Memorial Day parade has. It's a very simple parade, really, with the highlights being the local HS band (which is better than the Princeton band), the parade of old fire trucks and the procession of the local veterans dressed in their uniforms. My town's parade goes down Main Street, and there were many WWII vets (and others as well) who marched, and they were greeted, as they should have been, with great applause. I can't help but get a lump in my throat ever time I experience this, wondering who these folks are, where they came from and what their stories are. The Princeton P-Rade is great at tying all things Princeton together, but in a larger sense a Memorial Day Parade down Main Street ties all things together for all generations. All in all, a great weekend.
Flatulent Old Grad
Yep, grad students marched in place of the 25th Reunion folks ('85), who were leading the charge. I found the P-Rade really long and boring...being a grad student, you tend to be a bit disconnected from these sorts of things. I think that just has to do with the general embittered disposition of grad students.
Although the steam calliope fire truck was cool. And bagpipes! Nothing is cooler than bagpipes. I was also quite impressed with the fireworks display, especially the timing of the display with the music.
Thanks, T-Hawk! Was chatting with a co-worker about Reunions - he's a Yalie (his wife Brown, they're just back from her 10th "reunion"). Showed him this entry. Poor guy just shook his head in utter incomprehension.
But, then again, even my wife was a little dubious until I dragged her to my 5th. Now she gets excited about dressing the kids up for the P-Rade, too.
"...the 'graduation' of the seniors into the ranks of the alumni at the end of the P-Rade was and remains more emotional than the actual commencement" - Amen. Felt that way in 1994, and feel that way now.
Reunions are awesome!
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