Vulcan Fest Homecoming: A Beautiful Finish

Oct 14, 2019

The Cal U community and friends of the University have a wonderful time at the second Vulcan Fest Homecoming Weekend. The event included the first 5K and a surprise proposal.

  • - Blaze enjoys the Homecoming Parade.

  • - Alumna Ashley Roth, director of The Village preschool center, rides on their float.

  • - The Cal U Dance Team revs up the football game crowd.

  • - Co-Homecoming Queen Cynthia Obiekezie.

  • - Nicolas Bishop proposes to McKenna Ferris.

  • - King Eric Townsend, President Jones, Co-Queens Maddie Rush and Cynthia Obiekezie.

  • - Members of Delta Zeta with their float, created with Acacia.

A beautiful finish. 

It applied to the weather on Saturday during the second Vulcan Fest Homecoming Weekend, which started out not so terrifically but ended with sunshine and ideal fall temperatures. 

And it applied to the first Vulcan Fest 5K. More than 100 people ran or walked the course around and through campus in the rain, but the excitement of competing in the first such race at Cal U brought smiles to nearly everyone’s faces. 

Matthew Jenkins, a senior studying hospitality and tourism was the overall men’s winner, and Ally Wilson, a senior criminal justice major was the fastest woman. 

“I’ll do this every year if I’m able once I’m an alumna,” Wilson said. “The course was good.“ 

“I used this for a warm-up,” said Jenkins, who was planning to run in a marathon at Ohiopyle State Park on Sunday. “My stretches felt great, and I thought, ‘I’m going to win this!’” 

Frank S. Ptak, age 83 and Class of 1959, eagerly chose the inaugural Vulcan Fest 5K when he was looking for an October event to race-walk. 

“I wanted to do it at my alma mater,” he said. 

Right on cue, the rain stopped as the 70th annual Homecoming Parade stepped off from the Convocation Center at noon. 

Nigel Wright and his wife Amy, both 2007 graduates, returned to campus with their 4- year-old daughter, Amelia, Class of 2037, who has never missed the parade. 

Nigel is a technical program manager for Uber's Advanced Technology Group and looks at the event as a double homecoming of sorts. 

“I just love this time of the year and spending the morning out on campus, particularly in the fall,” he said. “Our daughter loves the parade and I really enjoy catching up with friends from my era of Cal U.“ 

Rekindling friendship at Vulcan Fest Homecoming were Sigma Kappa sisters and  retired educators Dr. Dawn Fredrickson Wilson ´70 and Frances Coneybeer Russell ´70. 

Dawn, who was Cal U’s Homecoming Queen in 1968, came back with her husband, retired Navy Cmdr. Dennis Wilson ´69, from Green Cove Springs, Fla. Frances, who was a majorette, and her husband, David ´69, returned to campus from Westbrook, Conn. The husbands, both Delta Sigma Phi fraternity brothers, were recognized at Kara Alumni House for their 50th reunion. 

"I remember working for days on the float and ours was as long as this room recalled,” recalled Russell. This is where I got my education, met my husband, developed my creative side and began my life’s career.” 

Wilson, who rode in the parade a few years ago as returning royalty, loves the tradition of the parade and Cal U remains special. 

“I’ve met lifetime friends here that I still keep in touch and meet new friends every time I come back,” she said. “When I come back to campus it feels like just yesterday we were students here.”

The surprise of the day came when Nicolas Bishop hopped off his float to propose to McKenna Ferris, who was on the float behind. The seniors met at Cal U during their freshmen years. 

“The time was right,” said Bishop. “Tomorrow is our 3-year anniversary.” 

(She said yes!) 

Under sunny skies, the party moved to Roadman Park on the upper campus. Several DJs took the stage to entertain, led by DJ Bonics, famous for his work with rapper Wiz Khalifa. DJ Femi, aka Bria Thomas ’15, and WCAL DJ Nick Rae also performed. 

Samples of Cal U Brew — made by Uniontown-based Laurel Highlands Brewing and co-owners Bob and Allison ’07 Kotarsky and Matt and Amy ’07 Smiley — were available. Members of the Class of 1969 enjoyed their 50th anniversary reunion. 

“There are 16 of us who met at Cal U and have remained good friends,” said Lindsay LiVolsi Merryman, who married Bill Merryman ’67. 

To close out a perfect day, Cal U defeated Clarion, 35-20. At halftime, Eric Townsend was crowned Homecoming King. Co-Queens were Maddie Rush and Cynthia Obiekezie.