Family Weekend at Texas A&M

Michael Salazar plays a game with his 9-year-old daughter, Madelynn, at the Student Recreation Center during Family Weekend at Texas A&M University on Saturday. Salazar's daughter Alleah is studying engineering at A&M.

Whether it was a sporting event, an open house, a tour of the campus or a chance to shop, Texas A&M's Family Weekend provided a little something for everyone on Saturday.

For two days straight, members of the Corps of Cadets marched and blew their trumpets, looking polished and pristine for the crowds gathered on campus. Food trucks and family-friendly game stations serviced visitors all around Kyle Field on Saturday. Fans looking to get their football fix headed to Kyle Field for the Maroon & White game, while the Aggie softball and baseball teams also drew fans.

Inside the overflowing Memorial Student Center on Saturday, Aggie Moms Clubs from chapters across Texas sold Aggie-themed items. Many moms peddled hand-painted signs and homemade crafts, T-shirts, knickknacks and customizable ornaments and boots.

The Henderson County Aggie Mom's Club, made up of about 25 women, has been setting up on campus at Family Weekend since 1995. This time around they were selling items such as grilling tools, as well as raffle tickets. The profits they made will go to scholarships for students in the Henderson County area.

"I was really, really proud to join the Aggie Mom's Club," said member Lynnetta Bragdon. "It's a big deal. Our kids can get two scholarships [from it], so that's a big help."

Bragdon said that some of these Henderson County chapter women have become her best friends since meeting through the club in the 1990s. Bragdon is mother to five children, four of whom went to Texas A&M and one who now teaches there. One child attended Ohio State University.

"Family Weekend is special, because you're spending time with your kids," she said. "It's a great time to come together with family and enjoy everything. Seeing the Maroon & White game is special, too."

Pam Clayton, another member of the Henderson County group, has three kids who went to A&M, as well as two in-laws who attended.

"I just knew that Aggie Moms was a good support group for the students," she said.

At Family Weekend, event organizers make everything special, Clayton said.

"It's not just a football weekend, but a family weekend."

Inside the MSC's second-floor ballroom, where a majority of the Mom's Club booths were set up, a mother and daughter from Plano did some shopping for Aggie memorabilia. Nicole Risinger is a senior mechanical engineering major at A&M, and her mother and father were Aggie mechanical engineer majors before her, as were her two WWII-veteran grandfathers. Nicole's younger brother is also a current Aggie mechanical engineering major.

Saturday was a mother-daughter shopping day, and the ladies were having fun. The women sported football jerseys, prepared to attend the Maroon & White Game together,

"I like all the things you get to do on Family Weekend," Vickie Risinger said. "You've got this boutique, the Maroon & White Game, and last year we went and watched the Ross Volunteers [perform]. We do something different every weekend."

Just outside Kyle Field after 3 p.m., the masses filed into the stadium to get ready for the game. Georgetown resident Cathy Breen made her way there with her kids, grandchildren, godchildren and friends from the Williamson County A&M Club. The group tries to come in annually for the festivities, Breen's husband is an alumnus, as are two of her children,

"This is only one of few universities where it's actually cool for parents to come visit," Breen laughed.

Her family agreed with her comment that it's an understatement to say that the A&M traditions unite the Breen family. Breen and her husband even keep a second house in College Station for the sole purpose of getting together with family for university events.

"We don't ever have a problem getting together for an Aggie cause," she said.

Away from all the crowds outside the stadium on Saturday, up on the sixth floor of Rudder Tower, about 25 families gathered to enjoy food, Aggie monument-themed Loteria and a bilingual special guest speaker as part of a meeting for Hispanic Aggie families hosted by the Hispanic Presidents' Council, a student organization. This is the third year these students have hosted their "Un Fin de Semana con su Aggie" during Family Weekend.

"For me, speaking personally, the Hispanic and Latin communities love interacting with each other," said Council member Patrick Patraca, a junior. "Being families, getting together, it's not awkward. We love just talking together."

The event was crafted in 2016 especially for Hispanic and Latin families so that those students and their parents can gather.

"The biggest thing is the bilingual portion [of the event]," said Council member Filipe Contaifer, a sophomore. "Our parents might not speak English, so when an event caters to them specifically, it makes them feel more a part of the Aggie family. When we have something so massive, it can be hard to feel part of it. We do this so [the Latin community] know that we're here, and that they are a part of the Aggie family."

To learn more about Family Weekend, visit http://familyweekend.tamu.edu.

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