By Sarah Waller
Few experience the Homecoming weekend with a sash on their shoulder or a crown on their head, but as the tradition continues year after year, the alumnae who once stood in those shoes still know exactly how it feels.
"The whole day was really a blur," says Elizabeth Gettys, the 2011 Homecoming Queen. "It is still odd to me that it happened. I never thought I would be nominated, let alone win."
Gettys is not the first to think this, and she will not be the last.
At this year's Homecoming weekend, four past Homecoming queens will be honored. Mrs. Florence Taylor Peters (1962), Christie Dykes Taunton (1987) and Sarah Hedgspeth Foster (2002) will be on hand to assist Gettys in the crowning of the 2012 Homecoming queen. About 10 years ago, Samford began a new tradition of recognizing the 50-, 25- and 10-year reunion Homecoming queens.
"It still is one of the greatest honors I have ever received," said Taunton, who now lives in Southlake, Texas. "It was an honor to represent my college in such a special way."
For this year's Homecoming Court, the weekend is jammed pack with events. Starting on Friday, they will be introduced to the student body at the bonfire concert. The next morning, they will ride in the parade and enjoy time with their friends at the tailgate. And then, with the conclusion of the first half of the football game, the 2012 Homecoming King and Queen will be announced.
"I remember it being a beautiful and bright day with a lot of joy and a festive spirit," said Taunton. "With my family and friends present, the weekend just had an atmosphere of celebration."
Many alumni see the weekend as an opportunity to reconnect with friends and the Samford campus. Foster says it is that sense of community that will always make her grateful for the college experience she had.
"I love that Samford was a personal experience all the way around. From the friends that I met, the interactions with my professors and the school's leadership as a whole, Samford provides such a wonderful, tangible community," Foster said. She lives in Durham, N.C.
Gettys has already planned to make Homecoming her first return to campus since her graduation in May. "I am really excited," she said. "I want to have the full alumni experience, and I feel like Homecoming will be able to provide me that."
This year's Homecoming queen will be crowned Oct. 13 during the football game's halftime presentation. The Bulldogs kick off against Appalachian State at 2 p.m.
Sarah Waller is a senior journalism major and a news and feature writer in Samford's Office of Marketing and Communication.