Princeton University Reunions is an annual alumni event chock-full of activities and celebrations. Each year, notable facts, figures and tidbits can be tallied — trivia time! — to give a vivid sense of this memorable tradition.
As alumni return to Princeton for the 2013 celebration Thursday, May 30, through Sunday, June 2, the following facts may inform and entertain as classmates from across the years celebrate getting together. More information about Reunions is available on the Alumni Association's website. Attendees can follow Reunions activities and discussion by visiting Reunions Mobile on their smartphones, or by following the hashtag #princetonreunions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- More than 24,000 Princeton alumni, family and friends are expected to attend.
- Seventeen alumni-faculty forums will be held, including "Books That Changed Your Life," "The Ever-Evolving Middle East" and "Is the Judicial Confirmation Process Broken?" moderated by Princeton Provost and President-elect Christopher L. Eisgruber.
- University Grounds and Building Maintenance staff will set up 115 tents around campus.
- During the three nights of Reunions, nearly 40 musical acts are scheduled to perform at the major classes' headquarters sites.
- The Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni (APGA) will mark the Graduate College's centennial.
- University Dining Services will serve approximately 36,000 meals.
- The University Bake Shop typically bakes 34,680 cookies for Reunions, including more than 2,000 cookies in the shape of the Princeton shield.
- Princeton alumni have returned to campus to celebrate Commencement festivities and reunite with friends since the earliest days of the institution in the 1700s, when it was still known as The College of New Jersey.
- The 100th Commencement in June 1847 drew 700 graduates for a formal dinner, escalating the tradition into a larger event.
- Until 1859, all alumni gathered together, but in that year, Alfred Woodhull, Class of 1856, organized the first Reunions by class year.
- The University's 150th anniversary in 1896 brought more than 2,000 alumni to campus to join in the celebration.
- Reunions were canceled in 1917 and 1918 because of World War I, as well as in 1943, 1944 and 1945 because of World War II.
- Fireworks at Reunions began in 1996 in celebration of the University's 250th anniversary. The 25-minute display features thousands of firework shells and is scheduled this year for 9:15 p.m. Saturday at Finney and Campbell fields.
- The Reunions P-rade, where alumni march through campus by class year in colorful black and orange attire, began in the late 1890s as a merging of earlier traditions when alumni processed to class dinners and to the traditional Princeton-Yale baseball game.
- The year 1906 marked the first formal P-rade, when the event was referred to as "The Alumni Pee-rade."
- Many years ago, the P-rade featured large animals. For example, a troupe of trained lions marched in 1906, two tigers walked in 1923 and three elephants led the Class of 1944 during the 1949 P-rade. (Large animals are now discouraged from the P-rade).
- Rain has only caused the P-rade to be canceled once, in 1953.
- The oldest returning alumnus carries the Class of 1923 Cane during the P-rade. The cane is a black wooden staff topped by a leaping silver tiger.
- The modern P-rade is scheduled to last approximately 3.5 hours. The 2013 P-rade is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
- Thirteen bands will march in the P-rade this year, including the Princeton University Band.