The following stories are from PAW’s 2009 Reunions Guide, available at class headquarters during Reunions. The guide also includes this year’s P-rade map, a trivia quiz about campus architecture, an interview with ABC’s John Stossel ’69, a cover illustration by Henry Payne ’84, and more.
New take on an old look
Reunions fashions have taken a traditional turn. After more than a decade of black beer jackets, this year’s seniors returned to an ivory base, with a clean and simple design that includes a black chevron, a silhouetted tiger, the Princeton shield, and of course, the numerals “2009.”
The design, by Garrett Brown ’09, won a classwide vote, beating out a dozen other entries that ranged from a bold tiger print to a whimsical cartoon of Calvin and Hobbes on a bicycle.
Brown said he drew inspiration from archival photos of beer jackets on the Princeton Web site. He aimed to make a “sleek” update of the stencil-painted white denim designs of decades past.
Nancy Edwards ’09 and Maria Salciccioli ’09, chairwomen of the jacket committee, were happy to see her classmates supporting a fresh look. “Every class wants to do something different,” Salciccioli said.
If the white jackets continue, the Class of 2009 can stake its claim as a trendsetter. And if next year’s seniors go back to black, that’s fine too, in Salciccioli’s view. Then 2009 will stand out even more.
(Photos: At top, the back of the 2009 beer jacket, and below, seniors who returned from military service sport their beer jackets in 1949, with a variety of class numerals.)
Themes from this year’s major reunions
This year, ’04 “Pleads the 5th” as it celebrates (and re-creates) four years of undergraduate mischief with a prison-break theme. The only thing missing? Wentworth Miller ’95, star of TV’s Prison Break.
The Class of 1999 gallops back for its 10th reunion, the “Tentucky Derby.” In a nod to Kentucky Derby tradition, the class will don seersucker, sundresses, and sunhats, while tiger cubs will march with orange-and-black hobbyhorses.
The 15th reunion theme, “Smells Like Fifteen Spirit,” is a nod to the grunge music and lifestyle that many class members enjoyed as undergrads. (The reunion logo is a parody of the cover for Nirvana’s Nevermind.) Reuners will be wearing ripped jeans and flannel shirts, in true grunge style.
The ’89ers are “Juggling it All and Having a Ball” as they return for their 20th reunion, a circus-themed celebration. Entertainment will include professional juggling performances, juggling workshops, face painting, and more.
The Class of 1984 greets its 25th reunion with an invitation to walk the orange and black carpet, dodge the P-parazzi, and join in the Academy Award-themed gala “1984 Thanks the Academy.”
The Class of 1979 challenges members to “Show Your Stripes” at the 30th reunion. In a nod to music of the ’70s, disco golf carts will accompany the class during the P-rade.
“Rock Stars in Stripes” take center stage at the 35th reunion.
The Class of 1969′s 40th will be a “Magical Mystery Tour.” The album was released just about halfway through ’69′s time at Princeton, and in ’69′s reunions logo, the Walrus has morphed into a Tiger.
The Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni’s theme, “Galileo’s Galactic Magic,” celebrates the International Year of Astronomy and the 400th Anniversary of the Galileo telescope.
Vintage celebrations: A closer look at the Old Guard
In the P-rade, no group of alumni gets more cheers per capita than the Old Guard. The men from Princeton’s pre-World War II classes become campus celebrities for those few hours on Reunions Saturday. But the jaunt down Elm Drive is just one part of an eventful weekend, according to Dottie Werner, who has organized Old Guard reunions since 2000.
The Old Guard luncheon has long been the main event for alumni whose classes have passed their 65th reunion. President Tilghman awards the Class of 1923 Cane to the oldest returning alumnus, and other University and Alumni Association leaders mingle with the alumni and their families.
Old Guard alumni also have the opportunity to dine together throughout the weekend and chat over cocktails in their reunion headquarters at Forbes College. Student volunteers help to provide a hospitable stay, making up the beds at Forbes.
Since 2000, Reunions attendance by the Old Guard has doubled, reaching a peak of 74 alumni and more than 100 family members and guests in 2008.
Werner, the Alumni Association’s coordinator for class affairs, stays in touch with Old Guard alumni throughout the year, sending birthday cards and checking in by phone. In her nearly three decades working at the University, 17 Princeton classes have enshrined Werner as an honorary classmate – a group that spans from 1922 to 1978. This May, in addition to attending the Old Guard events, she’ll celebrate the Class of 1954′s 55th. (Werner notes that she’s the “only gal” in the class.)
Werner says that Reunions energizes her, and it seems to have the same effect on alumni in the Old Guard. She tells the story of centenarian and silver cane winner Leonard Ernst ’25, who was so determined to watch the senior class dash across Poe Field a few years ago that he ignored an approaching thunderstorm. When the wind nearly blew away the Old Guard’s spectator tent, Werner finally convinced Ernst to take shelter and watch from inside a University van. “He laughed through it all,” she says.
(Above, Malcolm Warnock ’25 at Reunions last year. Photo by T. Kevin Birch)