“Is Delaware no longer a party school?” Often people use Homecoming (well, the policing of it) as their barometer in answering that question.
Let me back-up: around March of 2007, I was contacted by Lee Procida, UD '07. He wrote for The Review and ran their website, and was working on several sections of a special UD retrospective. Lee was familiar with the (then still active) DelGrads on MySpace page, knew that I was working on the Glory Days book, and wanted my spin on how the social scene has changed at Delaware since my days there…
…but he also understood that it’s not like I’m some kind of alcoholic eternal student Peter Pan Blue Hen entity, that has been living in Ivy Hall since 1987 and has “seen it all.” I only lived in Delaware from 1991 to 1995, and have been living in NYC since 1998.
So, Lee was of course just after my collective take, as drawn from the blog comments of other alumni, that were posted all over the DelGrads page. Getting back to our “party school” question, I did surmise that the peaking-out point in Delaware partying was the late '80s / early '90s.
You want an exact year? Fine, now that you’ve made it through this site, here it is: 1988. That’s my pick for the height of UD as a party school. I’m basing this on, 1) Kegs were banned at tailgates around 1989, and 2) I have NOT heard from any '80s alumni stuff like, “It really changed while I was there,” or “The seniors when I was a freshman would say 'It’s not like it used to be.'”
But note that 1988 was three years before I started UD. And that’s really the point…did it matter that I wasn’t there for the absolute height of Delaware partying? I made hundreds of great memories in college, anyway…and so did you.
I know what you younger kids are saying, “Well, you didn’t have the pleasure of being busted for playing music too loud.” And you’d be right. But judging by your anecdotes that I’ve been able to include on the site, the policy changes at Delaware over the years haven’t stood in your way of having the time of your life at UD.
“Every Homecoming between 1996 and 1999, it rained. After a few hours, the field on Route 4 was so overcrowded with intoxicated co-eds, that any open area became a restroom. Of course public urination is much easier for guys, as nature has given us an added convenience. But every year we would see those poor relief-seeking ladies squatting in an area they thought was concealed, only to be exposing themselves to us and every car passing on Route 4. To add insult to injury, there were a few times those ladies actually toppled over, while trying to pull up their rather tight, rain saturated jeans.”
- Trout, UD '01
“The group of people I graduated with are pretty good about making it to Homecoming every year. Now that we have jobs, we can afford the hotels. My freshman year (2000) was the last year for the tents behind the stadium. The arrival of Alumni Row or whatever they call it was what probably officially killed Homecoming. I doubt the university could change their minds about the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, but for Homecoming, they might be a little more lenient. Stone Balloon, R.I.P., what will we do without you? I guess Deer Park or Kate's it is!”
- Paul P, UD '04
“I've only made it to a handful of Homecomings since I left, but never a game. Usually just the bars on Homecoming night. The era has ended from what I've seen.”
- Jen M, UD '01
“My junior year I think UD and the City of Newark joined up to crackdown on the partying for the month of October, and rolled Homecoming and Halloween into one weekend. No, one DAY. For good measure, we'll throw in that it was also Daylight Savings Time.
So, October 31st, 2009, the entire campus is up at dawn to tailgate for the football game that no one makes it in to. It also rained all day. So you had a mix of people decked out in Delaware gear, in their Halloween costumes, or if you were really clever...both. Usually post tailgate day drinking people get to take a solid afternoon nap but because it was Halloween, no one did this. We all just kept going. And going.
Flash forward to 1AM, it suddenly becomes midnight again and for the troopers that had made it this far, they really started to decline. The rest is kind of a blur to me, but I will say I woke up covered in blue paint from the game and wearing a ballerina tutu.”
- MC, UD '11
“Yeah, I went to my first three Homecomings, maybe it was four. I think the first one after you graduate is the best, because your friends really make the effort to be there. That first October after you graduate, I mean, is only like four months or something after you leave college, so it’s almost like you’re just coming back from summer break. And yeah, it’s like it’s required to rain on Homecoming…I seem to remember one year on the Greek field some guys being towed by a pick-up truck through the mud, like they were water-skiing. And then at night the Balloon would be out of control, at double-capacity, with the big tent they’d put in the back parking lot.
Then as the years go by, less and less of your college friends make it to Homecoming, and it doesn’t seem worth the trip. You know, it’s just the fact that people are now part of the ‘real world.’ They have jobs, starting to get married and stuff, and maybe are spreading across the country (or at least up and down the East Coast). It just becomes more difficult to commit to the weekend, and if your college friends can’t make it, what’s the point? One great analogy I’ve heard is something like, ‘When the cast members of a sitcom start dying off, you just can’t have a reunion show.’
So, what I do now is a couple of times a year (on a non-Homecoming weekend), I jump into a car and head down to Delaware for a few days. I still have some friends who live ten minutes from campus, so I crash there. Love doing this in the spring…is there any place better than April or May on THAT campus?
It’s not like it makes me feel like I’m younger or still in college or anything. What it does do is remind me of a time when I was less cynical. And maybe that’s what I miss most about that time and that place, the ‘innocence’ of it.
Forget about the parties and alcohol, it was more about the little moments, than the drunken stuff. (Well, okay, drunken stuff can be really funny.) But walking around that very special campus on a random day is what really brings back the long lost memories…and I’m glad to have made them.”
- Digger, UD '95
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