This weekend’s Yale-Princeton game may just seem like another chance for Yale students to party, but for alumni from all over the country, it is nothing short of a chance to relive their bright college years.
In addition to the flocks of students expected to turn out at the Yale Bowl on Saturday afternoon, a large number of alumni are expected to tailgate as well, said Mark Dollhopf ’77, executive director of the Association of Yale Alumni. While most students treat this weekend’s game as a warm-up for next week’s matchup in Cambridge, Yale alumni — young and old — said the Princeton-Yale game is an opportunity to come back to their old college town.
In a tradition that began last fall, the AYA sets up an “Alumni Village” at the last home game of the football season, whether the game is against Harvard or Princeton. The tent, which will be set up across the student tailgate area, will be complete with catered food, drinks and live music from the Yale Precision Marching Band and various singing groups, Dollhopf said.
He added that the turnout for the grub was tremendous last year, and this year should be no different.
“Last year was the first year we did this,” he said, “and we had around 1,200 people.”
Many alumni that descend on the game, he said, are part of the annual AYA Assembly, a three-day conference for AYA delegates representing various Yale clubs, associations and schools to network and discuss a topic of importance to the Yale community. The conference, he said, was deliberately planned to end with the Princeton-Yale game.
This year’s topic is “Yale in a Green World: Meeting the Challenge of Sustainability,” and Dollhopf said over 500 alumni are back on campus to attend. Most participants of this conference, he said, are old Blues.
But they’re not the only ones who will return to campus this weekend. Young alumni hailing from the East Coast also see the Princeton-Yale game as a chance to revisit New Haven for the alternate years when The Game falls in Cambridge. In interviews, several recent graduates said they have opted to return to their alma mater instead of journeying to Harvard next weekend.
Larry Wise ’08, who lives in New York City, said everyone he knows who lives reasonably close to campus is coming to see the Bulldog-Tiger matchup.
“We’re going to have fun at the game,” he said. “And even more fun at the tailgate.”
While some recent graduates from the West Coast said they do not have the financial means to return to the Elm City for just a weekend visit, they will not necessarily miss out entirely in celebrating the rivalry. Several of those who opted not to fly cross-country for this weekend’s showdown said they plan on having small alumni gatherings in their area.
“A few of us are going to get together to watch the game on TV,” said Chris Rhie ’07, who works in San Francisco.
Princeton alumni are also visiting Yale’s campus to celebrate the Yale rivalry and reminisce about their college days. The class of 1956 is planning a tailgate in Lot D of the Bowl, where the Tiger Lilies, Princeton’s oldest female a cappella group, will perform, for instance. And the class of 1961 will be treated to a gathering at the home of Hank Sykes, who graduated from Princeton that year and now lives in New Haven.
One thing is for sure. Whatever team leaves the Bowl victorious tomorrow will be greeted by cheering alumni.