Keeping the Dana pride alive

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A quick search of Google for “defunct colleges still hosting homecoming” will get you this response: “It looks like there aren't many great matches for your search.”

While an exact answer may not be available, there is one that is quite well known to the Blair community.

On Saturday, the Dana College Alumni & Friends Association, along with the Dana College Foundation, will host homecoming on the former campus. With the exception of 2020 due to the pandemic, alumni have gathered every year since the college closed in 2010.

This year's event includes a variety of activities, including Kringle & Mingle at the Danish American Archive and Library, a tailgate lunch, ceremonies honoring a distinguished alumni and inducting members into the Dana College Athletic Hall of Fame, a performance by the alumni choir and class reunions.

When the decision was made to close Dana College on June 30, 2010, it shocked and devastated students, faculty, alumni and the Blair community.

Just three months later, alumni gathered at the Blair Family YMCA for homecoming. Some visited the then vacant campus.

“It's just extraordinarily sad,” one alum said.

For the last decade, the campus primarily sat vacant. In 2014, it was heavily damaged by the hailstorm that hit Blair.

But today, there is life on the campus once again as Angels Share, the organization that now owns the campus, has moved youth who aged out of foster care into a dorm; Christ Lutheran Church occupies the first floor of the former Durham Classroom Center and Trinity Chapel; the Dana College Foundation and Blair Radio are on the third floor of the building; and workforce housing has been built all around the campus.

Homecoming ceremonies returned to the campus in 2013 and have remained in the Gardner Hawks Center since.

It is certainly a unique situation for Dana College alumni. Many college graduates can claim that their alma mater is now defunct, but not many can say they still attend homecoming festivities each year.

It would have been easy for the former Vikings to just give up and not celebrate their college years. Instead, they keep the Dana pride alive.

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