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Coming home to ASU: It’s more than a reunion

By   /   September 17, 2009  /   Comments

It’s legitimate to conclude that Albany State University invented homecoming.

But it didn’t.

Several colleges, including the University of Missouri, lay claim to starting the tradition that has come to be one of southwest Georgia’s signature annual events.

But, boy, does ASU get homecoming right.

Lisa Riddle, director of the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau, says that ASU’s homecoming is hands-down the most action-packed and financially lucrative time of the year for the community’s hospitality industry.

Albany State homecoming is the biggest weekend of the year for Albany as all the hotels are sold out and restaurants are full,” she said. “This weekend generates approximately $3 million in economic impact which is the greatest of all Albany events. It is refreshing to see ASU alumni fill our city in celebration of the good times they had while at college in Albany.”

Many municipal departments, including police and recreation and parks, traditionally lend a hand to ensure that the community’s visitors are safe and made to feel welcome.

“This year we are assisting with organizing a block party on the 25th at the amphitheater to celebrate,” said Wes Smith, an assistant city manager. “We are also obtaining and circulating several types of advertising (posters, ASU ribbons) to help signify the event.”

Homecoming celebrations started – and remain – as a way of students contributing to the betterment of their alma mater. The activities center around the football game, but at ASU, the parade and coronation of the homecoming king and queen – along with several other events – also are signature activities as thousands of ASU alumni, students, family and fans gather for reunions, parties, parades, programs and tailgating.

Next week, alumni gather from all around the world to return to their alma mater and reconnect with one another and take part in the festivities. On game day, students, alumni, businesses, and members of the community set up tents in parking lots, fields, and streets near Albany Municipal Stadium, to cook out, play games, socialize, and enjoy live music. These celebrations often last straight through the game for those who do not have tickets but still come to take part in the socializing and excitement of the homecoming atmosphere.

While, the festivities are downright fun, the bottom line, though, is that homecoming celebrates a university rich in tradition.

Albany State, established originally as the Albany Bible and Manual Training Institute and supported by private and religious organizations, was founded in 1903 by Joseph Winthrop Holley to provide religious and manual training for negro youths of Southwest Georgia.

In 1917, the institute became a state-supported, two-year college, and its name was changed to Georgia Normal and Agricultural College. In 1943, the college was granted a four-year status. In 1981 the college offered its first graduate program and in 1996 its name was changed to Albany State University, which offers undergraduate and graduate liberal arts and professional degree programs, and a wide range of outreach programs to the community.

See official ASU Homecoming webpage.

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