Photo by Joe Shlabotnik.

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik.

Every year, during the last couple weeks of May, the orange and black paraphernalia that distinguishes the bubble inside FitzRandolph Gate bleeds into the town of Princeton. Princeton Pride takes on a whole new characteristic when alumni from classes of the 1920s to the most recent graduating class infest the town with their orange blazers, Princeton umbrellas, and babies in Tiger onesies. Every window display on Nassau, Witherspoon, and the alleys in between explodes with Princeton accouterments. Everything and everyone in town, whether or not they are members of this orange and black Ivy, get conjoined with the campus during Reunions.

I am always reminded of this, not just by my parents, who are fanatics about the P-rade, but also by the townies that don’t go to this University. Three weeks ago I scrolled past a post that a girl who had graduated from my high school wrote on another girl’s Facebook about Reunions weekend. Neither of them goes to Princeton but the message said, “CANT WAIT 4 REUNIONS 2013 WITH MY PTON BETCHES,” followed by a link to countdowntoreunions.com, a countdown created by the Alumni Association of Princeton. Princeton Reunions distinguishes our university from others, but it has also become a hotspot for high school students and townies to party for a few days and to reunite with friends from home. In the case of the post above, “PTON BETCHES” does not refer to any University females.

I have gone to Reunions twice, my junior and senior years of high school when my parents bestowed upon me the beautiful, coveted Reunions wristband that grants access to all the party tents (everybody who’s anybody also knows that the party tent is always the Five tent, the designated area for graduates who have been alumni for five years or less). I always had to sit in the Twenty or Thirty Tent with the family and try to make conversation with my parents’ colleagues about the Plasma Physics Lab and college applications, before I could meet up with friends at the Five. People scrambled every May to request wristbands from classmates whose parents were alumni or who had siblings at the University.

Those who couldn’t get real wristbands resorted to bootlegging, and an underground market arose. I would get texts and Facebook messages asking if I wanted to buy fake wristbands, and I’d get a discount if I got a few more friends to buy them with me. Not unlike in the fake I.D. market, friends would recommend better makers and prices were always negotiable depending on the size of the group looking to buy. The makers would always find one person who had a real wristband, examine it, and produce something along the lines of a laminated strip of paper, with the appropriate details printed on, covered in glitter.

Obviously, the bouncers and P-Safe caught on to these fakes and security was tightened my senior year. Different wristband designs were created for each tent; if you had a Thirty-Five year wristband like me, you were not allowed into the Five, or even Ten. I spent last year’s reunions nights in the Not-Fun-If-You’re-Not-Five tents.

Last week I woke up to an alarming amount of Facebook notifications (28 to be exact); they were notifications of high school classmates “liking” my photos, a friend request from someone I had de-friended, and some messages from people I had been friendly with that went along the lines of, “Hey girl! I miss you. Long time no talk right? So how have you been? So anyways, I come home around May 12th, and I was wondering if you had any extra Reunions wristbands? Oh wait when are Lawnparties? Can’t wait to see you soon!!”

Being on the other side of the FitzRandolph Gates now, I find this whole obsession over Reunions by non-alumni comical and bizarre (not denying that it’s great fun getting boozy with your friends on Pyne Drive). Princeton Reunions for those outside the Gate is also a form of reunions between high school friends, and now a business opportunity for the crafty forgers. It’s absurd to me now to think that while we walk by tents being set up, lights being strung up, and posters being hung up, students outside of the Bubble are meticulously counterfeiting this year’s wristbands for their own reunions.

Nowadays, I walk to class every afternoon without a giving a second thought to the arrangements being made on our lawns. In high school, I admit I was just as excited for the beer and party venue as the rest of my school, but I’ve have become detached from the majority of my graduating class in the past year. This year, I don’t need Princeton Reunions to reunite with the friends I’ve stayed close with. This year, I don’t really want to meet up with drunken acquaintance from the classes before mine. In less than one year I’ve become an Orange Bubble insider and I now have some claim to Reunions with my own class rather than with some classmates from the exterior Princeton.