Alumni Weekend 2015 was incredible. Photos will be posted to www.facebook.com/pizetes soon, but for now, we did a text recap. Thanks to all of those who helped put this together.
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And now, without further adieu…
Friday kicked off with a casual, low-key get-together at Pat’s Barn at the Rensselaer Technology Park. There was a great cross-section of all classes with plenty of time to walk around and catch up before lunch and the presentation. The 60s were well represented with Jay Webb, Joe Mauriello, Wes Haines, Bob (Charlie) Silvera, Art Gajarsa, Jim Cleary, Jim Ljunglin, Jay Webb, Jim Peta, Rich Schlumpf, Jay Stolzenthaler, and Steve Strungis all in attendance. With the suggestion of one of the spouses, we enjoyed one table of just the brothers while the spouses sat together at a different table. As we talked about all the things we did back in the day, Rich Schlumpf made an observation “if Rolling Stone magazine was around back then, most of us would have been in jail and the house would have been closed 50 years ago.”
The brunch at Pat’s Barn was a great time to greet some arriving Brothers and the program helped tie us back to Troy in a way much different from when we were there as students. A little intellectual touch to the weekend.
The Friday dinner on campus, without a formal program, was a great opportunity to meet-and-greet those who are returning with real time to visit. And the location had some university pomp to it.
Saturday started with the usual annual business meeting held in the morning, though this was moved back to 9am (vs. the traditional 10am start time) to allow more time for the rest of the day’s events. I suspected this earlier start time would result in “thin” attendance after the events the night before, but instead it was a challenge to find parking as 61 brothers rolled out of bed to attend! By far the largest attendance at any annual Pi Zete meeting! It was not only well attended, but very informative and productive. The highlight of the meeting was the discussion about how we are in great shape financially but must find a way to find more (and hopefully younger) Elders to help out. There are lots of ways to help.
I liked having the business meeting downstairs and it was very well attended. Sixty plus brothers in attendance at the meeting was awesome!! I think everyone had a great time and kudos to the organizers. As I sat there looking around, I was reminded of what I always tell the undergraduate brothers, “your three years in the house are just the start. The real body of your membership in this brotherhood comes in the next twenty or thirty or forty (or fifty) years after you graduate.”
After the meeting, Brothers gathered in the house and back yard for a fantastic lunch catered by Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and their mobile smoker. The weather was perfect for the event and the food was excellent. Brothers representing a range of 62 years of Zetes (class of 1957 through 2018) – reconnecting with many whom hadn’t been back since graduating, while also meeting new brothers. Some lingered at the house to continue to catch up with each other, while the rest attended an informative campus tour or watched a tight game between the Elders and Actives on the soccer field (with the Elders squeezing out a 7-5 victory). The Elders will be even stronger next year as the Actives’ player of the match, Brett Cutler, is graduating.
The day culminated with a reception and banquet at the Albany Marriott – again setting a record for the largest banquet at Alumni Weekend, and largest single gathering of Pi Zetes in the chapter history (178 attendees seated at the banquet)! Excellent remarks by Brothers Mike Bruce, Jim Kaeli, and John Spohn on the 150th anniversary of the Chapter. Honored to have Barth Gillan, Phi Alpha CXXXV in attendance. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the inaugural James J. Ljunglin awards to brothers Ljunglin, Webb and Gajarsa. Brother Preiss was also recognized but he could not make it to Albany over the weekend. In traditional Zete fashion, the party continued on until the wee hours of the morning Sunday.
The carnations were not forgotten this year, and the actives wore them to the banquet while making a very good appearance and impression. Other banquet formalities were good. I was touched by whoever thought to include “Zeta Psi, Guard and Guide Us.” The intense planning and follow-up made this complex event appear smooth and effortless.
That was by far the biggest crowd hanging out at the bar after the banquet that I have ever witnessed. The Marriott made a lot of money from us on over-priced drinks. At least they didn’t notice (or frown on) the various unpurchased bottles that were being shared by the crowd (excellent bourbon John, thanks).
While the Friday lunch tied us to Troy, the Sunday Brunch connected us to Rensselaer and it was in a first class location (the Alumni House). I really liked the brunch, including the food and speaker (Chuck Carletta from the RPI administration). The nice, bright room was great after a long weekend.
Sunday was the perfect way to end an already spectacular weekend. In desperate need of coffee and pastries, the brunch was great to get everyone back together to relive the events from the night before. Turnout seemed to be one of the largest for a Sunday Alumni weekend event and the Q&A session with Chuck Carletta offered both insight to the current state of affairs on campus and a chance for Pi Alum to address the University administration.
For years I have had after-AW remorse for seeing faces across the room that I never got to talk to. Those faces were more than ever this year, but the remorse was less perhaps due to my being older, perhaps because the attendance was such a wonderful happiness, talk or no.
Watching some of my friends meet each other and, after figuring out who they are talking to, laugh and tell stories and have a great time after 35 years.
It was great to see John Winn who was in my year and I haven’t seen him since we graduated. Despite there being 13 in my pledge class, the only one I’ve seen since school is Tony and now John. There were others who came for the first time in a long time like Lenny Mackoul, Andy Cohn, and Lou Scotto. The soccer game was a blast and my strained knee should recover in time for my 5K race this Sunday. It was more fun to play than ref as I did a few years back
Overall, at a major reunion when we want to draw people from some distance, we have to give them more than a meeting and banquet. It has to be an attractive and meaningful experience. I think we hit all the age interests.
I’ve been around a long time, and have never seen anything like this to brighten the Spring at 25 Belle Ave. My heart was warmed. It was a damn fine weekend for Tau Kappa Phi. (fine, okay you can use that if you want.)