Tuesday, April 23, 2024

MSU alumni share their homecoming traditions

October 12, 2022
Left: Michaels Pechy Middle: Tyler Beck Right: Justin Weintraub Taken by Ryan Eklund
Left: Michaels Pechy Middle: Tyler Beck Right: Justin Weintraub Taken by Ryan Eklund —

The hearts of Michigan State University alumni are captured every year by annual homecoming celebrations. Festivities like campus-wide tailgates, parades through East Lansing and the homecoming football game attract hundreds of former Spartans.

Alumni venture from far and wide to reconnect with old friends and remember their love for their alma mater.

To start a trip and respark the connection to MSU, a drive through campus is a must for many. The changing landscape of both campus and the city continue to surprise returning alumni.

“The tallest thing used to be a parking garage and now you guys have high rises all over the place – it’s great,” alumnus Justin Weintraub said.

Weintraub lived in a house on Elm Street during his time at MSU and likes to visit his old stomping grounds to see who resides there now. 

“Back when I lived on Elm Street, we’d always have alumni that ended up parking in front of us in the few years I lived there that would come back for homecoming every year,” Weintraub said. "I actually ran into them once when I was back visiting, which was really fun."

When Weintraub first visited the school, he fell in love with the campus. Being immersed in MSU’s atmosphere brings back that feeling.

“It’s always joy,” Weintraub said. “Just like pure, childhood joy.”

Re-touring a changing campus builds up an appetite, so the next stop is often to grab a bite to eat. Alumnus Tyler Beck lived on campus all five years he attended Michigan State, and said he misses the accessibility of the dining plan.

“Whenever I can, I like to go back to Brody Square,” Beck said. “I mean, you’re never gonna have that again.”

Classic bars such as Crunchy’s East Lansing are also a common dining spot. Many alumni say the dive's burgers are what brings them back.

“Usually there’s a trip to Crunchy’s,” Weintraub said. “Which is … I think the best alumni place at MSU.”

Georgio's Pizza also makes the list for many homecoming visits. The by-the-slice pizzeria was a common landing spot for alumnus Steven Culp after nights out at The Riviera Café – popularly known as “The Riv."

“When I was at MSU, Georgio’s was a place we went to … most Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights,” Culp said. 

Speaking of night life, many alumni opt to relive their late-night memories while back in East Lansing.

Two bars stand out as must-visits: Rick’s American Café and The Riv. 

Weintraub jokingly said that he wouldn’t regard Rick’s as a place he remembers fondly. 

“Rick’s never seems to change,” Weintraub said. "The Riv never changes either, in the best way."

During Culp’s time at MSU, Rick’s featured $1 pitchers as a special on Fridays. With their spot held all afternoon, more and more friends would visit as the day progressed. 

“Friday happy hour was absolutely a must by our group,” Culp said. “We went as far as to figure out who could go get our table Friday at 1 o’clock or 2 o’clock.” 

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Not all alumni opt for sticky floors and cheap drinks. Beck said he strays away from those college bars when he visits.

“I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to The Riv or Rick’s since I graduated,” Beck said.

Regardless of their agenda, one thing is for certain – what continues to bring alumni back on homecoming weekend is their love for MSU.

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