It was a weekend of sunglasses and smiles.
Everywhere you looked last weekend—from the rooftop bar at the newly reopened Weyanoke Hotel to the outdoor tables at Uptown Coffee Café on Main Street to the celebration at Stubbs Mall on campus—Longwood alumni beamed from behind their shades at the university’s second Mega Reunion.
The hot sun didn’t dampen spirits as hundreds of alumni—including the newest members of that group, the about-to-graduate class of 2018—returned to campus to celebrate, rekindle old friendships, and enjoy being back at their alma mater.
Every time Longwood alumni get together, a special energy is injected into the entire campus—it’s like they never left.Ryan Catherwood, assistant vice president for alumni relations Tweet This
“It was another very successful reunion weekend,” said Ryan Catherwood, associate vice president for alumni relations, who spearheaded the university’s move from smaller, decade-based reunions to a larger event that brings together multiple generations of alumni two years go. “Every time Longwood alumni get together, a special energy is injected into the entire campus—it’s like they never left. And this incredible mingling that happens when alumnae from the 1960s get to know alumni from the 1990s and so on, that’s just a special thing to watch. There isn’t a face that doesn’t wear a smile for those two and a half days.”
Mega Reunion, dubbed thus because its scope (all alumni are invited back to celebrate with others from their decade), began in 2017 to great fanfare. The original vision, to bring alumni together with their newest members in a weeklong celebration when campus is at its most beautiful and energetic, was fully realized this year.
The festivities got underway Friday with a kickoff at Beale Plaza that brought together alums with faculty and staff invited to help them start the celebration right. After dinner—alumni who graduated in the 1960s and 70s had dinner in Blackwell Hall, which in their time was the dining hall—a night of celebration ensued.
Having all the different generations together was such a wonderful atmosphere, and I genuinely didn’t want to leave Farmville.Alice Collier Cochran ’68 Tweet This
“I haven’t been back on campus since my 45th reunion five years ago,” said Alice Collier Cochran ’68, “and Longwood seems to have gotten even more beautiful than I remember. There was an incredible sense of energy and community on campus—on Saturday night we were hanging back at the big party when I looked at some of my sorority sisters and said, ‘let’s go show these students how to dance.” We had a wonderful time getting to know them and even reminded them to come back for their 50th reunion many years from now. Having all the different generations together was such a wonderful atmosphere, and I genuinely didn’t want to leave Farmville.”
Perhaps most impressive to many of the alumni who hadn’t made it back to campus in recent years is the way downtown Farmville has changed since their years as students. On Saturday afternoon, alumni flocked downtown to explore the town that was their home for four years.
The outdoor patio at 3rd Street Brewery, Farmville’s first craft brew-house was packed with alumni, and from there it was a short walk down the High Bridge Trail to grab a quick cup of coffee, bite to eat, or stop in and see friends having a glass of wine at the Virginia Tasting Cellar. That’s not to mention those who took in the view at the Catbird, the newly opened rooftop bar at historic Weyanoke Hotel, that offers stunning panoramas of Farmville and Longwood.
My daughter is a rising sophomore at Longwood, and her experience is a lot different than mine. We rarely went downtown all those years ago, but I really enjoyed the rooftop bar and all the places opening up on Main Street.Robert Ford Jr. ’79 Tweet This
“This place has changed so much since I was a student,” said Robert Ford Jr. ‘79. “My daughter is a rising sophomore at Longwood and her experience is a lot different than mine. We rarely went downtown all those years ago, but I really enjoyed the rooftop bar and all the places opening up on Main Street. It was a real treat to share that with my classmates—and to stay in the residence hall that brought back so many good memories.”
Several other popular features from the inaugural Mega Reunion in 2017 proved again as popular—morning yoga on Wheeler Mall with Jill Manning, leadership gift officer, family-friendly activities on Stubbs Mall, and campus tours.
But no Mega Reunion would be complete without the class parade ending at Alumni Color Wars—that unique Longwood tradition that started many decades ago where the paint flies and colors run amid peals of laughter.
A few hours later, as fireworks lit up the night sky——the Longwood spirit was still moving through campus as graduating seniors began to prepare for that short journey that thousands had taken before them: across the commencement stage and into life as an alum.