Excitement at Liberty University heightened on Saturday, as Homecoming Weekend continued with a vast array of events and entertainment for all ages.
Activities began early on Liberty Mountain with the Deep Hollow Half Marathon and 5K at Camp Hydaway. Participants had the opportunity to run on Liberty’s mountain terrain and enjoy views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Starting at 1 p.m., the sounds of Liberty’s Spirit of the Mountain marching band echoed along University Boulevard at the annual Homecoming Parade presented by the Student Activities office. It featured floats, the Flames cheerleaders, and President Jerry Falwell, Jr. and his wife, Becki, along with other members of Liberty’s administration.
During the early afternoon hours, tailgaters gathered along University Boulevard and parking lots surrounding Williams Stadium to enjoy grilled food, lawn games, and pregame conversation.
The weekend’s events culminated inside Williams Stadium as nearly 19,000 gathered to watch the Flames Football team take on Big South Conference rival Coastal Carolina, which pulled off a 55-52 victory in the second overtime.
Before and after the game, a carnival on the back lawn of the Hancock Welcome Center provided rides, games, and other activities for the entire family to enjoy.
Alumni were also able to attend several other events on Saturday, including men’s and women’s hockey games, a volleyball game, a performance of Les Miserables at the Tower Theater, and the annual Scaremare.
“We have enjoyed hearing alumni reminisce about the time they spent at Liberty, as well as seeing them reconnect with friends they have not seen in years,” said Tyler Falwell, director of Alumni Relations. “This weekend has been a success as far as welcoming our alumni back to Liberty Mountain.”
A breathtaking sunset filled the sky on Friday night, a perfect backdrop as Liberty University welcomed back a record number of alumni for Homecoming 2013.
The weekend activities began Friday morning at the Vines Center for Convocation featuring a visit from gospel music legend Bill Gaither, a performance by Christian vocalist David Phelps, and a motivational message from Liberty’s new softball coach Dot Richardson.
Various academic departments such as aviation, communications, and seminary held special events throughout the day to welcome alumni from their unique programs and update them on changes within the departments.
Flames fans also had a chance to cheer on several Athletic teams at events, including men’s hockey, men’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. Visit the Flames website and Club Sports website for the latest news and scores.
On Friday, a cookout also united the Liberty family on the lawn of the Hancock Welcome Center, followed by a family carnival with games and rides behind the building.
Student Activities presented the traditional Homecoming Bonfire to end the night, this year held at the site of the old baseball stadium. Liberty cheerleaders, football players, head coach Turner Gill, and Sparky, the Flames’ mascot, rallied the crowd before lighting the fire.
Homecoming excitement was evident all across campus, with the Alumni Relations Office reporting more people returning to their alma mater than ever before. About 4,600 alumni had registered, and another 1,200 more are expected to attend events on Saturday.
Alumni Director Tyler Falwell said many alumni who have not been back to campus for years have been awed by Liberty’s growth and he is excited to see so many return so they can show their own children around campus.
“It is good to see all of the families that are bringing back their children so they can experience Liberty now. It is safe to say we are going to have many second-generation students here at Liberty,” Falwell said.
One of those alumni is Kathleen Fletcher (’04), who said she spent most of her day exploring campus.
“Today I showed my children around campus in hopes of getting them excited about this place. Even though they are still small, I hope that all three of them will choose Liberty for their higher education,” Fletcher said.
Bert Logan (’84) was also impressed that everything around campus is now within walking distance.
“When I was a student, a bus would take us to football games (Liberty did not have its own stadium). I am looking forward to being at a game on campus for the first time,” he said.
Festivities continue tomorrow with the Homecoming parade starting at 1 p.m., tailgating starting at noon, and the Flames Football game against Coastal Carolina starting at 3:30 p.m.