Homecoming '98 blends traditions of past with alumni house ground breaking for the future

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Homecoming '98 blends traditions of past with alumni house ground breaking for the future

Packed with the glory of college spirit and tradition, Fresno State’s 1998 Homecoming will break

new ground — literally — when the campus community welcomes back Bulldog alumni Sept. 25 and 26.

Organizers promise “a fun-filled and eventful Homecoming weekend” including the ground breaking ceremony on Sept. 26 for the university’s $1.9 million Smittcamp Alumni House, a parade featuring several valley high school bands, and presentation of the 1998 Alumni Award of Excellence to eight Fresno State grads.

The Homecoming game Saturday night pits the Bulldogs against the Wolf Pack of Nevada,

providing the 1998 Homecoming theme: “If You Can’t Run With the Bulldogs, Stay in the Wolf Pack!”

Joining the Bulldog Marching Band in the Homecoming Parade on game day, Sept. 26, will be high school bands from Bullard and Hoover of Fresno, Mount Whitney and Redwood of Visalia and Riverdale, Madera, Merced and Kingsburg.

The Alumni Award of Excellence recipients, who will be honored during the football game Saturday night, are Peter G. Mehas, Larry Layne, Jan (Yocum) Duke, Nancy Osborne, James R. Provost, Patrick V. Vail, Max Shuster and R. Elaine Mason.

“Homecoming means exactly what it says, and Fresno State wants our alumni, as well as our community, to know that we are ready to welcome everyone back to campus in a big way,” said Josie Almeida, Alumni Association board member who is manager of the university’s Student Financial Services Office.

The public is invited to the 2 p.m. ground breaking ceremony for the Smittcamp Alumni House in Parking Lot “V” next to the Allergy Free Garden southeast of the Joyal Administration Building. More than 5,000 invitations have been sent out, said Leticia Reyna, special projects assistant for the Alumni Association.

When complete by this time next year — if all goes as planned — the Southern plantation-style, two-story structure will provide Bulldog alumni a “home” complete with conference and reception rooms, gardens and, later, a banquet hall.

Earl and Muriel Smittcamp, who donated $1 million to get the house off the ground, will join campus and community leaders Sept. 26 to begin the first stage of this new campus landmark that represents the future for Fresno State alumni.

But for the present, it’s a little bit of the past. Fresno State’s Homecoming is enjoying its second year of rebirth after a hiatus of several years.

Homecoming Weekend begins Friday, Sept. 25, with an old-fashioned pep rally on Bulldog Diamond, the old softball field east of the tennis courts off Cedar.

A “car bash” at 5:30 p.m. will be followed by spirit competitions and a dinner at 6:00 p.m. The Strongest Man Competition at 6:30 p.m. will include a car pull, a weight carry, arm wrestling, a speed race, a rope climb and a throwing contest. The Fresno State cheerleaders and the Bulldog Beat band will perform and the Bulldog football team will participate at 8:30 p.m.

Several campus offices involved in the planning include the offices of the Alumni Association, Student Activities, Athletics, and the University Student Union, as well as the student club, B.L.A.S.T. (Bulldog Life And Student Traditions), which was formed about four years ago.

Thomas Keys, president of B.L.A.S.T., said the car bash is intended to help “ignite the Bulldog Spirit within the players, as well as the Red Wave.” For a dollar, bashers can get one swing at a car painted in the University of Nevada’s colors to “have fun and get pumped up for the game.”

On Saturday, festivities begin with the Bulldog Homecoming parade featuring community and campus bands, clubs and organizations Saturday at 10 a.m. The parade has grown from one band, the Bulldog Marching Band, to include the eight other bands from schools throughout the valley.

The parade procession will encircle the campus from Shaw at Barton, west to Cedar, north to Barstow and back east to the North Gym where awards will be presented to the top three bands as well as to floats and other entrants. The bands will be judged by three band directors from throughout the state.

The Homecoming Tailgate at Bulldog Diamond begins at 4 p.m. with entertainment by the Alumni Band, consisting of former Fresno State students and headed by Norm Moglia. The self-service buffet features chicken and tri-tip, chili beans, rice pilaf, salads, cookies and a soft drink.

During halftime, the Bulldog Band Homecoming show will include the premiere of its Frank Sinatra tribute, marching in drill on the field to the tunes “My Way,” “That’s Life,” “Luck Be A Lady,” and “New York, New York.” The 1998 edition of the Bulldog Band features 189 members, the most in its history, according to band director, Dr. Gary Gilroy.

Kimberly Labosky, Athletics Marketing, said results of the pep rally competition will be announced during halftime. Homecoming activities conclude in the third quarter of the game when the 1998-99 Alumni Award of Excellence recipients are honored.

Tailgate tickets for Alumni Association members are $22 per person for the tailgate and game or $10 for the tailgate only. For non-members, the tickets are $24 or $12. For groups (six or more) and for students, prices are $21 or $9.

Tickets may be purchased in the Alumni Association Office in the Keats Campus Building, Room 113, or ordered by phone with a credit card at (209) 278-2586 or 1-888-437-8364.

For more details on Fresno State Homecoming 1998, call (209) 278-2078.