Alumni, current students and community members attend Homecoming Block Party

The event encourages UMass supporters to be proud and loud

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(Meghan Sorensen/Daily Collegian)

By Meghan Sorensen, Collegian Staff

Alumni, families, current students and Amherst residents gathered at the Old Chapel and the Goodell and Student Union lawns Friday for the Homecoming Block Party.

“Be proud and loud with alumni, families and friends at the Homecoming Block Party. No matter your age or interests, this party has something for everyone!” the event’s website read.

The event included stations from the Isenberg School of Management, the College of Engineering, CMASS, University Without Walls and a science showcase tent for the College of Natural Sciences. The department of chemistry held experiment demonstrations including the popular elephant toothpaste demonstration while other stations had live invertebrates and bugs on display, optical effect viewings and a science of food table.

In addition, UMass Arboriculture hosted a tree climbing demonstration and Friends of the Regional Dog Shelter brought adoptable dogs to be played with. The College of Engineering also hosted Justin Marple, class of ’17 and Bloodsport, his combat robot that was made famous on the Discovery Channel show “Battlebots.”

Alumni, current students and their families were encouraged to socialize, drink and eat while experiencing one of UMass’s beautiful autumn nights. Chancellor Subbaswamy, Sam the Minuteman and UMass heerleaders also made appearances at the event.

Attendees seemed “to be experiencing the reconnecting back to campus,” said Megan Hoyo, a class of ’07 member and the alumni officer for Professional and Affinity Networks for Alumni Relations.

“So we know that Homecoming is a big time for our alumni and we want them to be able to see all the great things that the Colleges are doing right now,” Hoyo said. “UMass is growing in the ranks nationally and we want to be able to highlight that. We want them to feel connected again back to the University and we want them to see all the great things that our students are putting on.”

Local vendors hosted tastings including: Apex Orchard’s apples, Mi Tierra Tortillas, Owl Energy Bars and Thomas Farm’s goat cheese. In the alcohol tent, Amherst Brewing Company, Glendale Vineyards and Glendale, Harpoon, Wormtown and other breweries offered samples. UMass Dining also offered an all-you-care-to-eat food tent for a $5 entry fee.

While 600 attendees registered, Hoyo said that over 700 people showed up Friday night, including class of 1982 Isenberg alum Paul Carney. Carney has made ample donations to Isenberg and UMass, beginning the $1.5M Carney Family Endowed Professorship and the Paul J. Carney Scholarship. This scholarship began a fund for high merit, underrepresented, or first-generation students or students with international backgrounds.

Carney brought his eight-year-old daughter and his 19-year-old niece along to the event. He sat on the UMass Amherst foundation board and recently sponsored what will be known as the Carney Family Auditorium in the College of Education.

“I love this place. This place was very good for me. It set a foundation for my success in life and I had a great, great time at the University of Massachusetts,” Carney said.

Western Massachusetts band The Neighbors played live music and the UMass marching band held a performance in the alcohol tent. Members of the marching band danced and jazzed up the crowd as they played.

For arts and crafts, there were stations available for button making, mod podge glass vase crafting, bug mask building and bead jewelry creation. Children were also encouraged to try out the inflatable obstacle course.

“It seems like a very large community effort. I feel like even though the Alumni Relations department helped coordinate the Block Party, it really took all the schools and colleges coming together to bring all of these exciting tents together,” Hoyo said. “It’s a really nice community act. It brings in people from Amherst who might not be necessarily affiliated with UMass and it brings in our alumni and our students.”

As the night continued, firepits were set up for s’mores making.

“It’s just a nice place to come. Good energy, good intellectual discourse and engagement,” Carney said. “It’s an inspiring place to be.”

Meghan Sorensen can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SorensenMeghan.