Late afternoon on Thursday, October 8, a holiday of sorts began for students and alumni of Ohio University. Traffic started to thicken around 5 p.m. on Court Street and continued through the weekend while the alumni made their way hOUme and current Bobcats welcomed back their favorite alumni. With only a few days to enjoy things they’ve missed most about Athens, alumni planned out their time accordingly and most don’t sleep.
Daniella Vaccari, a 2014 Ohio University graduate who lives in Chicago, celebrated her second Homecoming as an alum this past weekend. “I love coming back to Athens because it’s one of the most special places in the world. It’s where I found out who I was, and made memories with the most important people in my life,” she said.
Like most alumni, Vaccari had specific “go to” stops when she arrived in Athens. First, she made sure to swing by her old sorority house because during her time here she experienced some of her greatest memories there. “During college my sorority sisters and friends were like family,” she said.
Additionally, she spent a large portion of time at the Crystal, her favorite bar, that opened at 6 a.m. Saturday morning to serve mimosas and host a warm place for partiers to gather after an early morning of Kegs and Eggs. Unique to this weekend visit, Vaccari didn’t sleep. “I have to make sure I see everyone and do everything possible in such a short visit,” she said. Big Mamma’s Burritos, another important stop, is the food that fueled Vaccari’s sleepless weekend.
Robert Etherington, a 1989 graduate, is a bit more seasoned than Vaccari in his Homecoming visits. This weekend was his 16th back on the bricks to celebrate. “As soon as I see the campus I feel like I’m home again. There is no place on earth I feel more a part of,” Etherington said.
His experience has changed over the years. He used to pull the relentless all nighters like Vaccari and although he gets less sleep than usual, Etherington makes sure to get a few hours of rest. No matter what, he makes his vital stops at Paw Purrs, The Pub and JackieO’s with his old college buddies. “When I see friends from college and we are in Athens, it’s like we never left,” he said. Tailgating in Tailgate Park by the Hocking River and watching the Bobcats take on Miami was one of his and his college buddies favorite Saturday activities.
From recent graduates to graduates 26 years removed, the magic of Athens is alive during Homecoming Weekend. Amongst multiple activities and celebrations, alumni and current students celebrate the Bobcat Family and appreciate the relationships that Athens creates and fosters. “When I come back to Athens and when I’m with Athens again it’s like I never left,” Vaccari said.