Phil Regan ’87, did some tailgating while celebrating Merrimack’s annual homecoming with friends and family, including wife Karen, his parents, and his daughter Kayla, a sophomore majoring in marketing and communications.“Basically, bringing three generations back to Merrimack,” he said. The Regans of Chelmsford, Mass., were among the record crowd of more than 7,000 who visited campus.
Homecoming weekend included many social and athletic events, starting Friday with field hockey and the Mr. Merrimack competition, followed by a 5K race, football, soccer and hockey games Saturday and a car show Sunday.
More than 80 runners showed up at Austin Field for the 8 a.m. start of the 5K race, which raised money for the American Cancer Society under the auspices of Zeta Tau Alpha. Alumni Alex Vlahos and Gary Cuneo were the top two finishers.
Saturday’s tailgating in the parking lot next to the Sakowich Campus sold out. Revelers competed for distinction of best tailgate menu, most Merrimack Proud, and most well-represented group.
Brianna Burk ’15, had twice-baked potatoes that won the menu contest; the Class of 1984 had custom koozies, decorated tents and raucous school spirit to take home the Merrimack Proud award; and the Daly family was honored as the largest affinity group. For those who didn’t want to tailgate, there was a family-friendly cookout and child-friendly carnival near the Rogers Center for the Arts.
The college introduced the new Merrimack Main Street attraction to homecoming weekend this year.
Affinity groups such as Greek Life, Legacy Families and Student Involvement used the main street to host alumni and current students for sharing college stories, said Joanne Mermelstein, associate vice president for alumni relations.
President Christopher E. Hopey and many members of the faculty and staff renewed old acquaintances.
The new Merrimack Proud state-of-mind campaign went over well and resonated with visitors throughout the weekend — with T-shirts, stickers and the social media hashtag #MerrimackProud. Some of the “swag” was purple, marking the campus’ commitment to ending domestic violence.
The new alumni Twitter account @merrimackalumni was launched during the weekend. “With the growth in social media presence, we want to keep contact with our alumni, which is truly what it is about,” said Mermelstein. “We reach multiple generations through print, email and social media.”
Regan renewed his relationship with the college when his daughter enrolled two years ago and is still marveling at the changes from his college days. “This is night and day compared to when I came here,” he said. “What they have done is phenomenal.”
Homecoming was a special day for Kayla, too — “because my parents came to my school and they brought food.”
David and Kerrie Blazon, of Lowell, Mass., are fairly new to the Merrimack family. Their daughter Lauren is a sophomore majoring in business finance who is a member of the crew team. “I just love this school,” David Blazon said. “It’s just a nice, small Catholic school.”
The local and national student population, and the effort President Christopher E. Hopey is making to elevate sports to Division I have impressed him, Blazon said.
Steven Sohigian, ’95, of Andover, Mass., majored in liberal arts with a concentration in philosophy and English during his college years. Even though he lives nearby, Sohigian enjoyed the chance to return during Homecoming. “It’s a time to reflect where I’ve been and where I’m going,” he said, “to reflect on what was going on then and what is going on now.”