In just a few short weeks scores of families will head to Charleston and the campus of The Citadel for Parents’ Weekend. The class of 2016 will receive their rings (THE Ring) Friday afternoon and the Class of 2019 will go through a promotion ceremony Saturday morning. They will move from being cadet recruits to cadet privates. While it is a fun weekend for all classes the focus is really on the seniors and freshman, or knobs as they are called. I am very excited to attend the events this year at the invitation of a few friends.
Friday, October 9: (Note: Parking begins to fill up before noon on Friday. Allow extra time to walk to your destination on campus if you arrive closer or after noon.)
10:30 am – Report to Parents by the President and Senior Staff: If you are in town early and can attend, these talks are always informative.
12:55 pm – The seniors process from 2nd battalion to McAlister Field house as the knobs cheer them on. If you are on campus, this is a fun tradition to watch. The knobs in the class of 2019 line both sides of the street and cheer on the seniors as they process by. It is a great time to take photos and video.
For families of seniors: Families of the seniors really should be seated inside before the processional. If you really want to see them march in and you have a large party have someone save your seat, or designate one person to take photos. We had our seats staked out on the middle aisle part way up the stands my son’s senior year. My husband is a photographer and found this was the best place to get photos of the ring being presented. The seniors are divided in two groups by company then in alpha order. Be sure to ask your cadet which side their company will be on to make it easier for you to spot them when they are seated. Each company invites a special person to their class to give them their rings. It can be a former cadet officer TAC officer, alumnus or other person special to the class. Ask your cadet who they selected. The school will have a video of the presentation after the ceremony. See this link for a video from a previous year.
After the presentation ceremony is over the seniors run out of the field house, across the parade field to the chapel. This began after the presentation was moved to the field house. cadets used to receive their rings in the chapel years ago. The past several years the seniors began to run to the chapel and knock on the memorial plaques and chapel door with their ring. They then run to their company letter. Junior cadets form an arch that the senior run through, grab a glass of sparkling cider then throw the glass at the company letter. If you position yourself at the sallyport with a view of the company letter you can see this ritual play out. I wrote about my son’s senior year here.
The seniors will spend a little time inside the company then will join you outside the barracks for photos and to show off their ring. Have your camera ready! The seniors smile more this weekend than they have for the previous three years.
The Summerall Guards have a practice Friday afternoon. Others will have free time before the ring ceremony Friday night. (See this video from 1991 to see the tradition hasn’t changed much over the years.)
For families of knobs: If you can get to campus to see the march into the field house it will give you a glimpse into the pride the seniors feel. The knobs will cheer on the seniors and then will be able to leave campus fairly soon after the seniors go into the field house. As with everything else this first year the knobs are not in control of their time. Let them know when you will get to campus and ask them where they want to meet you. Be aware that some families will not be able to visit their son or daughter this weekend. If you can, invite your knob’s friends without family in town to join you. You will have the entire afternoon and evening together. Ask your son or daughter when they wan to return. Many go back a little early to get their rooms ready for open barracks in the morning.
1:00 – 3:30 pm – Information reception Various vendors and cadet clubs have display tables set up in Mark Clark Hall. Bring cash and your check book. In the past, some vendors have not taken credit cards. If you see something you want get it this weekend. There is no guarantee they will have it at a later big weekend.
6:00 pm – Ring Ceremony and Family Photos The evening begins with the Junior Sword Arch (JSA) opening the event by performing their silent drill. You are not required to be there for this, but it is a very neat performance to watch. Some families/groups who go through the ring later in the evening opt to go out to dinner rather than watch the JSA. Each company and group of cadets are given the time to go through the ring.
Traditionally the cadet escorts their mother through the ring. Over time this tradition has broadened to other significant people to the cadet. It is also traditional for the women to wear a formal dress since the cadets are in their most formal uniform. You will see cocktail length or evening slacks suits on some in attendance, but the majority still wear formal dresses. A video of the presentation from a previous year.
Gentleman going through the ring wear either a dark suit or a tuxedo. If the men are not walking through the ring they dress for the dinner plans the family has that evening. The cadet and whomever they escort are to be on line at least 15 minutes before their scheduled time. Be sure you wear comfortable shoes if you are walking through the ring as you may be waiting a while to walk through. The rest of the party not going through the ring go to the stands to sit and wait for them to walk through.
A note about dinner. Since the companies go through at different times each family/or group of families will decide when they need to have dinner. Reservations are important since it is a Friday night and a big weekend in Charleston. As a side note, many seniors reserve Friday night for family then will go out with their classmates Saturday night. Of course that too varies with each cadet/family.
Saturday, October 10:
8:00 am Buyer Auditorium, Mark Clark Hall – Coffee and juice is available for parents. Vendors of various types including the photographer who takes the company photos are available.
Parents of Regimental Band Company guests may enter Padgett-Thomas barracks at 8:00. Band company has other duties this morning.
8:30 – 10:15 Open Barracks Families and their guests can visit their cadet in their room. Some parents use this time to bring food items to their cadets. For many it is the first time to see the barracks room fully made up and inspection ready. The knobs have spent a lot of time on the company banner. Be sure to make a special note of the banner. There are various bulletin boards that are painted by the cadets in each company.
8:45- 9:15 am Kelly Cup Competition The Kelly Cup is a competition between squads made up of knobs from each company. The final four squads compete Saturday morning for the Kelly Cup. Your son or daughter will have told you if they are participating. If they are not you have more time to spend with them before their promotion ceremony.
9:30 – 10:00 Regimental Band and Pipes Concert Held on the parade field this is a nice concert to attend while the knobs prepare for their promotion ceremony.
10:10 – 10:20 am Fourth Class Promotion Ceremonies A very moving ceremony for the knobs and their families. The knobs are lined up in front of the company letter. Family and friends can watch from around the group. The company commander and the company 1st Sgt present the knobs with their company letter. Afterward they do push ups together. This ceremony marks the end of the cadre period.
Once the ceremony is over the cadets get ready for the parade and families move to the parade field to wait for the parade to start.
Each year various groups of parents use this time to meet somewhere on the parade field to say hello to friends they have made through the various Facebook groups. This year I’ll be watching the promotion ceremony for Bravo Company then will be by the jet, “Annette” outside of 1st battalion.
11:00 – 11:45 am Review Dress Parade and Awards. Get your spot on the parade field or in the stands for the parade. Some people bring their own folding chairs and place them along the ropes before the parade to save a place. You’ll soon learn the best viewing spot for the company you want to see. It is nice to watch from the stands, but we enjoyed watching first battalion some on to the field from in front of Mark Clark Hall for some parades.
12:00 – 12:45 pm Lunch You have several option for lunch as outlined in the printed schedule. I think every family should eat in the mess hall at least once during the four years at the school. You’ll need to have reservations for the mess hall or a boxed lunch. Many families pack a picnic lunch, or bring food for their cadet then tailgate for their lunch. You will not be able to take your cadet off campus for lunch. The Citadel Alumni Association has a great BBQ lunch in the Holliday Alumni Center from 12 – 2:00 for $12 per person. It is good food and served int eh nice air conditioned room on the first floor. This is where I usually eat before the game.
2:00 Football Game The cadets march to the stadium from the barracks as fans line the street. The Summerall Guards perform at halftime. The cadets have to stay together in the stands during the game. The knobs will be able to get something to eat and drink at half time. Many families go ahead before half time and get them something to eat and drink and have it waiting for the knobs. If you haven’t already you can get tickets to the game through the ticket office. You can also buy tickets the day of the game.
Many families tailgate before and after the game. The families of knobs usually try to leave campus as soon as the football game is over and the knobs are released to leave. This first year knobs usually want to sleep, eat and sleep some more when they get off campus.
Sunday, October 11
The cadets have the day to be with family and friends.
Dress: For families of cadets from knob year to junior year the dress for the weekend is casual.
Senior families Friday afternoon is business casual. The evening is formal (see notes above). Saturday is a typical football day.
Watch the weather forecast and pack accordingly. You cannot bring umbrellas into the football stadium but you can wear a rain poncho.
Parking: Like all big weekends, parking is tight. The earlier you arrive the better selection of parking spots you will have. See the official weekend information for details
See the previous posts about Parents Weekend/Ring Weekend for more photos of the events: