Albany State University associates (from left) Kartina Robinson, Barbara Daniels and Elizabeth Williams, prepare Spirit Packets for this year’s Homecoming. The Spirit Packets contain t-shirts, a banner, buttons and yard signs local businesses can display to show their support of the event. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — Albany State University’s 2013 Homecoming week will kickoff at noon today with a campus celebration, beginning Albany’s week-long transformation into a city-wide ASU pep rally.
Local citizens and businesses have already began preparing for the event, which is estimated to bring more than 25,000 people to town in support of the school.
According to Clifford Porter Jr., Vice President of Institutional Advancement for the university, the event is hugely important for alumni and current students.
“It’s really one of the high water marks for the university each year,” said Porter. “It gives us a chance to reminisce about the past and plan for the future. It’s truly a celebration.”
This year’s homecoming theme is “A Ram Reunion,” which looks to honor and celebrate the school’s alumni, who have remained supportive of their university over the years.
To foster that theme, homecoming organizers have scheduled numerous alumni events throughout the course of the weekend, beginning with a black tie alumni association class reunion Thursday night at Hilton Garden Inn. The weekend will also include an alumni golf tournament at 11 a.m. Friday at River Pointe Golf Club and an alumni association fish fry that night.
The main attractions, however, are the annual homecoming parade that will make it’s way through downtown Albany, and the homecoming game itself, in which the ASU Rams hope to get a win against rival Morehouse College Maroon Tigers.
The parade will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday on Pine Avenue, with the game to follow at 2 p.m. at Ram’s Stadium.
In addition to being the university’s biggest event each year, homecoming has also become the largest annual event for Albany.
According to Albany Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director Rashelle Beasley, the event constitutes a $3.5 million economic impact for the community.
“It’s a great impact for the shopping, restaurants and attractions,” Beasley said. “It’s great for current students and faculty and great for the city.”
For their part, event organizers at ASU feel the event could not be the success it has become without the support of Albany and its citizens.
“The city is a great partner in supporting homecoming,” said ASU Administrative Assistant Elizabeth Williams. “We’re very thankful for the community’s involvement.”
Williams added that many local businesses show their support by purchasing Spirit Packets containing various ASU items those business use to decorate for the event.
“We want for the city of Albany to be decorated to show their support of ASU Homecoming,” Williams said. “With a Spirit Packet they get shirts, a banner, buttons and yard signs.”