Remembering the island

Courtesy: Photo by Jonathan Parker/ The J-Tac 2006. (left) Photo by Tessa Blackwell/ Grassburr

Courtesy: Photo by Jonathan Parker/ The J-Tac 2006. (left) Photo by Tessa Blackwell/ Grassburr

With construction underway at many locations on campus, students can expect to see some changes to traditions surrounding the site of the Alumni Island.

Before the construction of the Administration building on Washington Street, students would “cruise the island” during the first week of the fall semester in a parade-like fashion beginning in front of the former student center, trailing around through the now closed gates at the front of campus and ending back on Military Drive in front ofHunewell. The island was the center for the drum beating during homecoming as well as student congregation.

“The best part was being able to see everybody, especially the first week back,” J-TAC Facebook follower Lisa Farr Stanford said. “If you didn’t have money for gas, you could just sit and watch your fellow Texans drive by.”

Involvement in “cruising the island” diminished after several years until the tradition was finally done away with in 2008. 

“It was fun getting to hang out and meet new people the first week back,” another JTAC follower Samantha Fothergill Barnett said. “I’m sad it’s gone.”

Workers say that extra care will be taken during the construction process to preserve the only remaining landmarks of the island, the three-penny triangle and the horseshoe.

As of Dec. 28, improvements began with converting the section of Doc Blanchard drive between the Howell and math buildings into a pedestrian walkway. The next phase will include restoring the east gates, resurfacing Military Drive, and creating green space on Alumni Island.

To offset the parking being taken away from around the island, a new lot will be added on McIlhaney Street.

“I was at Tarleton from 2006-2011 and the tradition ended during that time. I loved it,” Shay Smith Barnett from Facebook said. “Sad to see it go, it was just a fun part of that first week of school.”

Other comments on J-TAC’s Facebook page about the former tradition included:

“Cruise the Island was my most favorite part of the year, it was how I got over being ‘scared’ as a freshman, where I metsoooo many people, had a blast and swam in the bed of a truck for the first time! I’ll never forget it! So sad it’s no longer part of TSU traditions! -TSU Alumni (2000-2004),” Jessica Best-Diffee commented.

“That is how you met so many people as a freshman. I met Courtney Dickert Paschall while cruising the island, and here we are almost 20 years later still together,” Paul Paschall commented.

“I loved Cruise the Island! It was the best night of Howdy Week! Meeting new people and running into friends you didn’t see during the summer…it was a blast! Getting lei’d,” Tara Smith Pirsch commented.