Spirits were high at the annual Storm Watch festivities Friday with record numbers of Hurricanes participating in Homecoming competitions and attending the pre-game events.
“We hoped that Storm Watch allowed all the Hurricanes present to experience the spirit of our alma mater and get everyone pumped up for the highly anticipated Homecoming game versus FSU,” said Julio Barroso, Homecoming co-chair.
According to organizers, preparations for Storm Watch began months ago, and the 30-member committee worked non-stop to ensure that the night would be a success.
“Due to the football schedule, Homecoming had to be held much earlier than usual, and this meant that the bulk of the preparations had to be done in the spring,” Barroso said. “Since we were afforded less than a month before Homecoming events were scheduled to begin this semester, we did not have the luxury of having much time after the summer break to finalize preparations.”
According to many of those who took part in the festivities, Storm Watch gave students an opportunity to bond as they shared in the traditions of UM and cheered the Hurricanes to victory.
The Homecoming parade took place on Stanford Drive, with a float-decorating competition among various student organizations, fraternities and sororities.
“I thought the parade was a good experience for the people in the community to come support UM and for school organizations to show their spirit,” freshman Jared Stitz said.
The parade was followed by a pep rally held in the StormSurge Cafe and on the UC patio.
“The pep rally was awesome,” said sophomore Diana Edens. “It was great to see both students and alumni cheering in support of the ‘Canes.”
“We knew we would win!” Edens said.
After the pep rally, students, alumni, faculty and staff proceeded to the boat-burning and fireworks display along Lake Osceola. Those present held candles and sang the alma mater.
According to organizers, the boat-burning tradition holds that if the mast of the burning boat breaks before the boat sinks into Lake Osceola, UM will win the Homecoming football game.
“As I looked across the lake at the rows of candles held by students, it made me feel a closer bond as we sang the alma mater and showed our UM pride,” junior Kaz Pais said.
Freshman Ashlee Daigle said that she realized throughout the evening that tradition is central to the atmosphere and history of the school.
During the fireworks display, the letters “UM” were spelled out on the residence towers.
“The fireworks were mesmerizing,” said freshman Michelle Roman.
“The best part was seeing ‘UM’ written on the towers while the fireworks were going off,” Danielle Dudai said.
The night concluded with free food and a performance from the Gabe Dixon Band.
The winners of Homecoming 2002 were announced on Sunday at the closing ceremonies on the UC Patio.
The winners were divided among three competing categories: fraternities, sororities and independents.
Sigma Phi Epsilon took first place among the fraternities. Kappa Sigma and Alpha Sigma Phi took second and third, respectively.
In the sorority category, Delta Delta Delta placed third, Zeta Tau Alpha came in second and Kappa Kappa Gamma won first place.
The Federacion de Estudiantes Cubanos placed first for the independents, while the Association of Commuter Students came in second and the United Black Students took third place.
Organizers believe that Storm Watch was a success.
“We broke records with the number of organizations participating in Homecoming as well as attendance records at all of our events,” Barroso said. “The level of attendance made this one of the best and most spirited Homecomings ever.”
Several news stations and publications were present at the events.
“Storm Watch drew thousands of students, alumni and Hurricane fans and truly put the spirit of our university in everyone that attended,” Barroso said. “Even if you were not able to make it to Storm Watch you were probably able to catch coverage of it on CBS, NBC or ABC, along with various publications including The Miami Herald, that could not help but be drawn to the spirit emanating from our campus that night.”