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Coming Home...To a Tent in the BackyardBrother Mark Coogan '83 Recounts Fun Weekend Visiting the Chapter House.

One week before Homecoming, Perry Rotella, ’85 sent me a text proposing we show up this year, for the first time in…well…too many years.  Given short lead time and my budget constraint, Perry’s solution was brilliant. Why not set up a tent in our own backyard?

We’ve gone camping and backpacking for years, so we had all the “stuff” required.  A quick scan of the weather forecast sealed the deal: temps in the 70’s/50’s day/night and no precipitation.  

Having extended our itinerary to include a hike around Philly on the Friday before Homecoming, we arrived at the house Thursday around midnight. As we walked in and introduced ourselves, 30+ years away were deleted.  Within five minutes, we were playing beer pong with our brothers.  Not beer pong as we knew it, but close enough for us to keep up.  Coming in cold sober at midnight helped. 

After a perfectly comfortable and quiet few hours of sleep in the tent, we headed out to hike the Philadelphia Marathon route, minus some of the further miles up/down the Schuylkill.  Weather sunny and 70°.  Among the highlights were Boathouse Row, which neither of us had ever walked, Ben’s gravesite, lunch at Jim’s and the new boardwalk built along the Center City shore of the Schuylkill, roughly opposite the Penn campus.  Twenty-two miles, all in. 

Saturday brought ideal homecoming weather, a little cooler than Friday’s but even sunnier.  The house looked good (the transformation since Thursday night was remarkable). As the crowd gathered, Bloody Marys were expertly prepared and the annual meeting was standing room only.  Later at Franklin Field, the Quakers delivered a joyous Princeton defeat, but not until the final few seconds of the game.  After enjoying the post-game gathering back at the house, Perry and I headed out, still feeling about three decades younger.