Nearly 1,000 Fordham alumni took part in the annual Young Alumni Yacht Cruise, a Homecoming weekend tradition that was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Members of the classes of 2020 and 2021—who abruptly shifted to remote learning in their last semester at Fordham and who weathered a year and a half’s worth of virtual and in-person college, respectively—made up most of the crowd at the sold-out event. As undergrads, they had to forgo the usual Senior Week programming, which typically includes a boat cruise for Lincoln Center-based seniors, so many of them were elated to be on board. They felt the alumni event made up for a tradition they missed before graduating.
“I don’t think any of us have been in that kind of crazy-busy celebratory environment since before 2020,” Finley Peay, FCLC ’20, said after the event.
Peay spent the night hopping about the boat’s four decks introducing alumni, taking pictures and videos to share on the alumni Instagram account, and, of course, celebrating with friends along the way: “I actually loved being able to run around and run into friends I hadn’t seen since some of my Rose Hill classes, as well as good friends like old roommates and folks I studied abroad with” in London, Peay said.
As a member of the Young Alumni Committee—the group that helps keep Fordham grads of the past 10 years connected to their alma mater through the cruise and other events and activities throughout the year—Peay was busier than most that night. But she was but one person in a crowd in constant motion, sparking mini reunions at every turn. (Delphine Mason, GABELLI ’20, quipped that the boat setting let her “run around and not worry about losing anyone.”)
Many reunions were brief—glimpses of old acquaintances and one-time classmates led to quick catch-ups on the way to the bathroom, buffet, or bar before each person rejoined the friend group they came with. Some fortunate friends had last seen each other the previous week; others had gone a year or even two since connecting in person. “It’s been forever!” was a common refrain heard in the crowd—as were shouts of glee as old friends recognized each other—amid chatter about Fordham memories and what everyone’s been up to since graduation. Work, grad school, and more have scattered the alumni far and wide, but many returned to New York just to attend the event.
“It was nice to be with the Fordham community since moving to Texas after graduation,” said Michael Finnan, GABELLI ’21, who moved to Dallas to work in finance in September.
A look at the crowd revealed a sea of suits and cocktail dresses in nearly every color—including a healthy amount of Fordham maroon. For some, that was an intentional choice: “What better place to wear maroon?” said Alexa Speciale, FCLC ’20, who had her nails painted to match her jumpsuit.
With a bustling, dressed-up crowd and pop music blaring, the cruise ultimately felt like a deluxe version of the President’s Ball, the annual dance for current undergraduates held that very night under the Homecoming tent on the Rose Hill campus. Instead of appetizers, the attendees enjoyed a full buffet dinner of Caesar salad, chicken francese, salmon, beef, yellow rice, and vegetables, plus an open bar. And instead of the familiar environment of Rose Hill, alumni enjoyed splendid views of the Manhattan and New Jersey skylines. Peay, Finnan, and their friends settled onto the roof just in time to see the Statue of Liberty go by.
Though a DJ played music during the entire cruise, it was halfway through the three-hour event when the dance floor on the lowest deck began to fill. It wasn’t long before it was packed. Disparate clusters of friends came together as one large group, one united Fordham family, pulsing to the music together.
One of the final songs played was “Mamma Mia.” Intentional or not, the lyrics couldn’t have been more fitting for the event: “Here I go again … does it show again … just how much I’ve missed ya?”
—Gillian Russo, FCLC ’21, is an assistant editor at TodayTix Group.