Booked solid! 3 college homecomings fill Dubuque hotels
Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -
Homecoming is a big event for any school in any community, but imagine having three in one city on the same weekend. That's the case in Dubuque right now, as thousands of visitors flock to the key city and fill up the area's hotels.
The homecomings at Loras College, the University of Dubuque and Clarke University aren't the only events drawing people to Dubuque this weekend.
The All the Way Home veterans conference is happening on Saturday. Over in Galena, Ill., there's the major annual Country Craft Fair. On top of that, there are many leaf-lookers, who come to the Mississippi River Valley this time of year for the changing colors.
Pat Antkowiak traveled with her husband Tom from Ohio for her 50th class reunion at Clarke University. Antkowiak, then Pat Lewandowski, was 1963 class president.
"It'll be nice just to see people again," she said, while strolling Clarke's campus Friday afternoon.
She joins hundreds of alumni streaming into Dubuque this weekend and got her first sign of that at their hotel.
The hotel clerk, "said that they were sold out when we checked in. She said since Monday they've been sold out," Antkowiak said.
Having all three colleges hold their homecoming on the same weekend is rare, but for two of the schools, it's no mere coincidence.
"We actually always plan ours with Loras," Clarke University's director of alumni relations Nicole Breitbach said. "A lot of our alumni are married to Loras grads. So, tonight, we actually have a Clarke-Loras celebration that we have every Friday the weekend of homecoming that we do together, and then UD, that just kind of worked out really nice this year."
It's nice for the local economy, too, says Keith Rahe, president of Dubuque's Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"Not only are the hotels full but the restaurants are going to be full, the convenience stores, the attractions see an uptick, the casinos, everything," Rahe said. "You bring this many people into your area for a weekend or extended period of time like this, it affects everything."
He said it's better for the city if homecomings fall on different dates, to help spread the impact over a couple of weekends, but he's not complaining.
"It's tremendous for the area," Rahe said, of this weekend. "It'd be nice if we could do this every weekend, all year long, but we're trying."
As for the returning alumni, it's a walk down memory lane.
"Even though it was a small school, we made a lot of nice friendships and nice memories," Antkowiak said.
Loras College's homecoming is extra special this year, as the Catholic school is celebrating its 175th year.
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