Bringing Home the Green and Gold

Posted: January 16, 2014 at 5:50 pm, Last Updated: February 14, 2014 at 7:55 am

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Homecoming block party

The Homecoming block party is a great place to meet old — and new — friends. Photo by Will Martinez

By Preston Williams and Carol Swigart

For Brandt Heatherington, BS ’86, and hundreds of Mason alumni, the Homecoming 2014 “Bringing Home the Green and Gold” theme captures a major reason why they look forward to returning annually to campus. Alumni want to come back to a place that provided so many opportunities, challenges and exciting times.

But it’s not only about bringing home the green and gold and reconnecting with friends. It’s also a time for alumni to share the memories with loved ones who might not have been a part of their college experience. For many, Homecoming is a blend of nostalgia and today.

“Homecoming is now becoming like a family holiday,” says Heatherington, who is eagerly anticipating the celebration on the Fairfax Campus. “We look forward not only to reconnecting with our Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity brothers, but also to see their families and how much the kids have grown. And we look forward to this day to be a part of — and party with — the greater Mason Nation.”

After hosting their reunion at Homecoming for several years, the Sig Ep tent is doubling in size for the 2014 block party, one of many indications of the enthusiasm and participation for this year’s event.

For alumni such as Wendell Garner, BS ’87, Homecoming is an opportunity to connect to the past and the university’s future at the same time. He roams the campus and makes note of the changes from previous years, amazed each time by how much the school has grown.

“Walking the campus grounds never fails to bring Mason memories alive again for me,” Garner says. “I usually visualize many special moments, such as Mason Day events and the first events associated with the opening of the Patriot Center. I hear the many voices and laughter of my fellow classmates, professors and school administrators who played an instrumental role in the completion of my educational journey at Mason. I’ve made attending Homecoming a high priority, and I encourage others to join me.”

After the game, fireworks over Mason Pond are a thrilling sight. Photo by Evan Cantwell

After the game, fireworks over Mason Pond are a thrilling sight. Photo by Evan Cantwell

“There is an energy in the air that gets everyone excited!” exclaims Elizabeth Pereira, BA ’01, who has attended each year since graduating. The Homecoming experience has always been a blend of past and present for her. She attends with her husband, Dennis, BS ’01, whom she met when they were enrolled in the Honors Program. The two are season ticket holders and attend every men’s basketball game with their three young daughters.

homecoming flameGiven that Homecoming coincides with Presidents Day weekend, alumni will travel from near and far for the occasion, and many others will check in virtually. Alumni received a Mason “torch” in their mail and can help promote Homecoming and illustrate the extent of Mason Nation’s global reach by taking a photo with the torch. Torches also can be downloaded. Creativity is encouraged, particularly playing off the Olympics-inspired “Bringing Home the Green and Gold” theme.

The torch photos can be sent to masonhc@gmu.edu or posted on Instagram using #MasonHC. The photos will be shared on Mason’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

The alumni festivities begin Friday night, Feb. 14, with the eighth annual Alumni Beer Tasting, featuring New Belgium Brewing. [Update: due to inclement weather, this event was cancelled.] On Saturday, the Mason women’s basketball team will face Saint Joseph’s at 1 p.m., and the men face St. Bonaventure at 6 p.m. Between the women’s and men’s games, guests will mingle at the tailgate in the heated Alumni Hospitality Tent in Parking Lot K.

All Homecoming celebrants can enjoy the second annual chili cook-off, the Spirit Zone and Mason Family Zone tents. Family Zone includes a children’s play area, face painting and crafts for Little Patriots. In addition to those events between games, the School of Law is hosting an alumni reception.

After the men’s game and immediately following the fireworks show over Mason Pond, alumni and friends are invited to the Grand Ballroom of the Mason Inn for more festivities. DJ Chris Styles, a popular draw at Alumni Weekend, will return to campus to close out the evening.

The Mason Inn is also the site of the Sunday morning Champagne Brunch, from 10 a.m. to noon, which will conclude Homecoming.

Pre-registration is recommended for all alumni events. To receive early-bird pricing, RSVP for Homecoming by Feb 7. All registrants will receive extra discounts through the weekend, including access to the fitness centers around campus and discounted admittance to Gunston Hall, the university namesake’s estate in Mason Neck, Va. The Mason Inn also has special discounted hotel room rates until Jan. 29.

Write to Preston Williams at pwilli20@gmu.edu

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