Hugs, kisses and a chance to see her babies -- the students she taught over her 20 years at Goldsboro High School -- brought Patricia Polack downtown early Saturday morning.
By 9:15 a.m. -- almost an hour before the Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni and Friends Inc. homecoming parade stepped off -- she was sitting in her chair at the corner of Center and Spruce streets.
The parade was just one of the many events that started Thursday and will continue through today as the Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni and Friends Inc. celebrates its 63rd annual homecoming.
Center Street was lined with spectators. Some brought their own chairs, while others sat on the benches set up in the pedestrian greenway.
The parade featured bands, floats, beauty queens, and cars. Many alumni sported the school colors of blue and gold.
Some had shirts with the last two digits of their class year on the backs.
"I made sure I got here early and got a good seat," Polack said. "Nobody is in front of me, and I can see. The primary reason is that I get to see a lot of the students that I taught over the 20 years that I haven't seen because they have relocated.
"They are very active in their alumni association, and I get to interact with them here today. I get a lot of kisses and hugs and things of that nature."
Polack moved to Goldsboro from New York in 1979 and went on to teach for 20 years at Goldsboro High School.
Polack said she recalls reading a New York Times article years ago that mentioned the Dillard/Goldsboro Alumni and Friends Inc. as being one of the largest such associations in the country.
Just south of her location, Foyd Hill, president of the Dillard High School Class of 1962, was sitting in a pickup truck on Pine Street waiting for the parade to get underway.
Hill, who moved to Pikeville several years ago after living in Philadelphia for 45 years, said he has enjoyed attending the homecoming weekend for many years.
Hill said he enjoys seeing people he has not seen in years while helping to celebrate and preserve the history of Dillard High School.
But perhaps even more important is that alumni give back to the community, especially by providing scholarships to local students, Hill said.
That, he said, is the most important part he likes about the event.
"My class donates money every year," he said. "I like for kids to further their education and get them off the street. That is giving back, and I like that. That is a main thing I like, too, they give back.
"I think it means a lot from where we came from. You know way back in the day we didn't have much, but we made what we had work. They get to come back home, and this is a big event for Goldsboro. I think it is basically based on where we came from."
It is amazing how everyone comes together for the weekend that Hill said he looks forward to every year.
The homecoming weekend also provides an economic boost for the city as alumni stay in hotels and eat at local restaurants, Hill said.
Helen Coley Harris, Class of 1960 and association national recording secretary and keeper of the records, was wearing a bright yellow shirt and was getting ready to drive an equally bright yellow Mustang in the parade.
"We all look forward to Memorial Day weekend," she said. "We start preparing the first of the year to make sure that all of the activities are in place."
This year the association gave scholarships to representatives of each chapter, New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Goldsboro, she said.
Some of the recipients attend Charles B. Aycock and Eastern Wayne high schools, but the majority attend Goldsboro High School, Harris said.
The homecoming weekend kicked off Thursday with the scholarship and awards program at Goldsboro High School with scholarships being awarded to graduating seniors.
"Our main goal is to support the children," Harris said. "It is all about the children. This way the funds that we raise go back into the community."
That includes for activities that involve senior citizens, youths and young adults, she said.
The association's goal also is to promote love, harmony and to ensure members continue the work started by professor H.V. Brown, Dillard's longtime principal, Harris said.
Brown's last year at the school was her senior year of 1960, she said.
The Class of 1969 was the final graduating class at Dillard after which it was turned into a middle school and students began attending Goldsboro High School, Harris said.
That is why the association, which was formed in the early 1950s, changed its name to include Goldsboro High School, she said.
"That is why we are hoping we can encourage the classes coming out of Goldsboro High to join us, and take over when the rest of us need to sit down," Harris said.
"The building is still there, and we still love dear old Dillard."
The annual board meeting was held on Friday at 9 a.m., and the annual homecoming dance was held at the H.V. Brown Center Friday night.
The parade was followed by a homecoming picnic held from noon until 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the H.V. Brown Center.
Individual classes held private reunions and gatherings the entire weekend. Classes that ended with a 3 or 8 had special recognition.
The Black and White Ball was held from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday.
Class picnics are being held from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. today, and classes will be attending worship services at different churches.