Excitement at Liberty University escalated as Homecoming Weekend continued on Saturday.
A record turnout of alumni from all over the country made this the largest Homecoming Weekend in Liberty’s history by a landslide. By Friday night, campus had seen as many alumni as the entire weekend last year, and crowds continued to pour in as events went on.
Activities began early on Liberty Mountain with the Deep Hollow Marathon and 5K at Camp Hydaway. Participants who took on the challenge of running through Liberty’s rough mountain terrain were rewarded with the breathtaking views, including a stunning horizon painted by the Blue Ridge Mountains.
As morning transitioned to afternoon, energy intensified across campus as tailgaters littered the sidewalks and parking lots surrounding Williams Stadium. People from all walks of life enjoyed grilled food, conversation, lawn games, and an atmosphere rich in history and excitement. Grill smoke cleared enough on University Boulevard for the crowds to witness the annual Homecoming Parade, presented by Student Activities.
Children were showered with candy as floats passed, and onlookers saw everything from horseback riders representing Reba Farm Inn to presidential hopeful impersonators on the College Republican’s float. Liberty’s Marching Band, accompanied by Flames cheerleaders, led the procession, followed by Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. and his wife, Becki, waving, smiling, and tossing treats as they passed by in a stylish convertible.
Student Activities presented cash prizes to the top three floats, as voted in a Facebook poll. Winners will be announced Monday.
The weekend’s events culminated inside Williams Stadium as more than 18,000 fans (fifth-largest crowd in stadium history) gathered to watch the Flames football team take on Gardner-Webb in its first Big South Conference showdown of the season. Children enjoyed inflatables and games just inside the stadium, and in the stands everyone was seeing red as screaming fans supported the home team.
Though Liberty got off to a slow start and found itself in a 28-10 hole early in the third quarter, the Flames rallied to a 42-35 victory, the first for Head Coach Turner Gill. Read the full story on the Flames website.
Before and after the game a carnival on the back lawn of the Hancock Welcome Center provided an array of rides, games, and other activities for the entire family to enjoy.
It was a special weekend for Jerry and Becki Falwell, as they recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. The couple enjoyed a special surprise reception in the Welcome Center with nearly 200 friends, family, alumni, and staff.
“This year has been a rock-solid event, we are seeing more engagement, more socializing … it has been a family-friendly event, and so many are seeing campus for the first time, or feel like they are,” said Tyler Falwell, director of Alumni Relations. “This is the biggest Homecoming we have had by far, it has been a great opportunity to see people connect.”
He said many have expressed their appreciation for what Alumni Relations has done to make them feel connected to the university throughout the year, utilizing social media like Twitter and Facebook. For more information visit the Alumni Relations website.
A throng of Liberty University alumni spanning generations joined together on Liberty Mountain for Homecoming Weekend 2012, celebrating the tremendous blessings instrumental in Liberty’s success and fondly remembering times past, how their alma mater has influenced so many Champions for Christ.
With several construction projects under way (more than ever in Liberty’s history), visiting alumni may have found the campus to be almost unrecognizable from before — beginning with check-in at the new Hancock Welcome Center, which opened this summer. Tours provided by the Welcome Center were one of the greatest attractions at Homecoming Weekend, with record signups.
The weekend activities got under way at a packed Vines Center for Convocation on Friday morning, featuring actor/producer Kirk Cameron as its guest speaker — whom many alumni remember watching on television years ago in the 1980s/early ’90s sitcom “Growing Pains.”
Various academic departments, such aviation, communications, and seminary, held special events throughout the day to welcome alumni from their unique programs.
Flames fans sported their red threads and cheered on several Athletics teams at events, including men’s and women’s soccer, men’s Division II hockey, and women’s volleyball. Visit the Flames website and Club Sports website for the latest news and scores.
Homecoming excitement was evident all across campus, with the Alumni Relations Office reporting more people returning to their alma mater than ever before — traveling from all over the country, California to South Florida, the Midwest to the East Coast.
Alumni Director Tyler Falwell said this year’s events were designed to promote community, allowing conversation between old friends and current students, people who have never met but are joined by a bond created through Liberty’s commitment to Training Champions for Christ.
“You don’t know where you are going unless you know where you have been,” he said. “History is a vital part of Liberty; it is a vital part of everything we do. While we are young, our history is rich. At Alumni Relations, we try to do everything we can to remember Liberty’s heritage. It is educational for our students and our newer alumni.”
The Alumni Relations Office decided to celebrate Liberty’s heritage, as well as its stunning architectural advancements, with “Then and Now” signs all across campus. These signs display a picture of what campus used to look like in that location.
Falwell said this year he is meeting more alumni than ever before whose children were with them to scout out their parents’ alma mater as they make college plans themselves.
On Friday, a cookout also united the Liberty family on the lawn of the Welcome Center and a family carnival with games and rides was held on the field behind it.
Student Activities presented the traditional Homecoming Bonfire to end the night, this year held near the tennis courts at Green Hall. Liberty cheerleaders, football players and head coach Turner Gill rallied the crowd before lighting the fire.