Alumni and the entire Princeton community welcomed the Class of 2023 on Sept. 8, with a Pre-rade march through FitzRandolph Gate and around Nassau Hall. Sporting t-shirts that reflected their residential college, the first-year students walked with President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83 and members of senior leadership and were greeted warmly by family and alumni in a ceremony inspired by Reunions weekend’s P-rade.
When the Pre-rade reached the steps of Clio Hall, the Class of 2023 joined alumni in singing “Old Nassau,” and Tom Meeker ’56 of West Caldwell, N.J., had the honor of leading them in their first locomotive cheer. “I’m here to wish you well on your journey—your Princeton journey,” said Meeker, who dressed for the occasion in head-to-toe Princeton pride and a fun pair of shorts highlighting his class year. “And I’m not talking four years, I’m talking a lifetime. Because once a Tiger, always a Tiger. Your blood will always run orange and black.”
Since 2004, Pre-rade has followed Opening Exercises, a Princeton tradition that dates back to at least 1802, during a day of ceremonies. In his Opening Exercises address in the University Chapel, Eisgruber invited the new Princeton students to reflect upon the wisdom and achievements of Toni Morrison, the Nobel laureate and Princeton professor who died on Aug. 5. “We know that you will infuse living energy into this place from, as Toni Morrison said, many neighborhoods and many lands,” he said. “We know, too, that wherever you come from, each of you belongs here. We are delighted to see you, and we take great joy in saying, ‘Welcome to Princeton!’”