Mona Hoffman, her sister Dorothy Thomas, and Thomas’ husband, Larry, warmed themselves by a wood fire Saturday as Anderson University’s Homecoming Street Fair buzzed a few feet away.
“I have never seen so many children,” Thomas beamed. “That’s insurance for Anderson University.”
Themselves children of John A. Morrison, the first president of Anderson College, Hoffman and Thomas said their father would be proud of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of all ages that soaked up a brisk, sunny autumn day on University Boulevard.
“It’s delightful,” said Hoffman, who graduated from Anderson College in 1940. Thomas graduated in 1943.
“He said some day we will be a university, and we are. We grew from a two-room Bible-reading class. In other words, I’m 90 years old.”
“And I’m 88,” Thomas said before a second could pass.
Up and down University Boulevard on Saturday, children, students, and alumni mingled, chatted, and reunited amid a carnival atmosphere. Student and alumni groups cooked up elephant ears, bratwursts, chili, and Thai noodles, to name a few, to raise money for campus groups or missions.
But the food wasn’t just for eating.
“Marshmallow golf is so fun, even if you don’t play golf,” barked Chris Green, who was raising money for Student Government Association. In a small mulch mound, he placed a marshmallow atop a tee for would-be fluff duffers.
“It’s not intuitive,” he said, recommending a heavy iron and a low approach.
Nearby, junior Paul Bates was raising money for Avanti Boosters Social Club by braving a dunk tank in the low-50-degree weather. Or so it seemed.
A student passerby stopped in his tracks and stared, apparently noticing the slight steam vapors rising from the water below into the cooler air.
“It’s cheating, isn’t it?” Bates acknowledged of the warm water into which he’d been dunked a half-dozen times in five minutes. “It feels pretty nice to get in it.”
It’s a sentiment many homecoming guests likely shared, filling the street on the first dry, sunny day after a week dominated by inclement weather.
“It’s the biggest turnout I’ve seen,” said Ben Davis, AU director of alumni relations. “That’s as good as a crowd gets for the street fair.”
The crowd on hand was just a part of the Anderson University family that would be able to get the flavor of the event. For the first time, the street fair could be viewed live on streaming video through the university’s Web site, www.anderson.edu, and that of AU alumni, www.andersonalums.com.
[PHOTO: WQME 98.7 FM's Matt Rust interviews 2009 AU alum Kelly Kaiser during the Homecoming Street Fair Webcast.]
At the alumni tent, 1952 graduate Jean LeViere of Portersville, Pa., smiled as she flipped through yearbooks and looked at displays from her days as an Anderson College student. She became a teacher after her years at the school, and two generations followed in her footsteps.
“Oh, it’s great,” she said of reconnecting with AU alums and being among crowds of students and faculty at homecoming, as she’s tried to do nearly every year since graduating.
She began her college career at Indiana University before she transferred to AU. “I fell in love with it,” LeViere said.
AU junior Alex Campbell and others from Fair Commons Apartments cooked up something special Saturday — chili and white chicken chili, sales of which benefit their sponsor child, 10-year-old Travis Mugabe from Uganda.
She said it takes $25 a month to support Travis, and the students have several fundraisers throughout the year to collect that money.
"This is probably one of our biggest ones,” she said, noting that Saturday’s good turnout would likely support the child for months to come.
“All the proceeds are going to go to him,” Campbell said.
– Dave Stafford is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Story posted by permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.