Festival, Photo Ops and a Football Nailbiter Punctuate Annual Reunion
By Lauren Brown
Photo by Hong H. Huynh
They came in SUVs and pickups loaded with cornhole boards, red canopies and snacks to lure their students to football tailgates. They came to meet their deans and to tour residence halls and apartments, now more lived in than at move-in. They came to laugh with them through drag bingo.
Family Weekend brought thousands of parents, grandparents, siblings and other loved ones to the University of Maryland campus from Friday to Sunday to catch up with their Terps while enjoying a mix of academic open houses, sports events, arts performances, talks and made-for-memories moments.
Brian Watkins, director of Parent and Family Affairs, which organized the festivities, said it was a weekend of “tremendous positive energy.”
“Families loved the opportunity to see their students, but also got a sense of the spirit of Maryland throughout all the events,” he said.
Nearly 1,800 families registered—around pre-COVID levels—with attendees coming from California, Florida, Maine and more.
New this year was “Terps and Treats” in downtown College Park, an opportunity for families to see the area’s vibrant redevelopment while enjoying fare from local food trucks, listening to live music, perusing the offerings from artisans and vendors at the coming Shop Made in Maryland store, and even making some crafts themselves.
Maryland Football drew the biggest crowd of the weekend, with Terps in hoodies, satin capes and Maryland flag-patterned gear bringing the season’s highest attendance to SECU Stadium, where the Terps fell 31-29 in a heartbreaker to the Purdue Boilermakers.
Other popular events included the 0.5K downhill race, with its silly warmups, a coffee and donut hydration station, and medals to all; the giant Terp Family Festival and BBQ on McKeldin Mall; and the 16th annual gospel brunch featuring performances by Washington Performing Arts’ adult choir.
But the hottest ticket of Family Weekend was Friday night’s “Not Your Grandma’s Bingo!,” which sold out in five days. Helped along by riotous and risqué “bingo-verifying” drag queens, the games raised $13,000 for Fostering Terp Success.
Ruth Gallatin of Annapolis, who was the 50/50 winner of that event, said she’d had a blast, and was happy to spend time with her son, Josh ’23.
“We're only 35 minutes away so we see him regularly but wanted to experience our last family weekend ever,” she said. “So glad we did, lots of good energy and smiles to be found!”
Check out some of the scenes from the weekend's activities.
University President Darryll J. Pines (from left) poses for a photo with Julion Harris '26, Harris’ grandmother, Elvis Shields, and mom, Dr. Rhonique Shields-Harris ‘95 of Brandywine, Md., during the President’s Open House at University House on Friday. Photo by Hong H. Huynh
Cassidie Starner (in pink shirt), of Ocean City, Md., laughs with son Samuel Shifler '26 (in white shirt), and other siblings at the Terps and Treats in College Park event at City Hall on Friday evening—the first-ever Family Weekend event held off-campus. Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle
A pastime that’s a stalwart of American Legion halls and church basements got a drag twist on Friday night courtesy of Patti O'Furniture, who spiced up Not Your Grandma's Bingo at Adele H. Stamp Student Union. Photo by Thai Nguyen
Cool temperatures and low clouds (but no rain!) didn’t keep the crowds away from the Terp Family Festival and BBQ Saturday on McKeldin Mall following the Terps football faceoff against Purdue University Boilermakers. Photo by Hong H. Huynh
“Terp Sib” Lauren Jee, Terp Dad Tom Jee and Terp Mom Pam Jee surround mechanical engineering major Ryan Jee '26 in the photo booth on McKeldin Mall on Saturday. The family hails from Clarksville, Md. Photo by Hong H. Huynh
With Testudo anchoring SECU Stadium’s student section, Terp fans jingled their keys, trying to augment the Maryland defense with noise as Purdue defeated the Terps 31-29 on the final drive. Photo by Mackenzie L. Miles
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