Homecoming 2002 celebrates America and all it has to offer with its theme, “The Road Home.”
Most of the event locations will be decorated like different U.S. cities, ranging from Alaska to Atlantic City.
Events kick off today and last through Oct. 13.
According to organizers, events will include the homecoming ball, the football game against Florida State University, the traditional cardboard boat race, a parade down Stanford Circle and “friendly competitions” between student groups such as the Alma Mater singing contest, organized cheer and the Miss and Mr. UM contests.
“We’re hoping to bring attendance way up,” said Julio Barroso, co-chair of the Homecoming Committee. “We know it’s early and we only had half the time to prepare, but everyone’s done a great job. We encourage everyone to attend.”
Rivalries are already heating up between groups planning to compete in the events.
“Our biggest competition this year are the sororities, but I think we’re ready,” said a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, defending champions of the Alma Mater singing contest.
“We have cool stuff planned for the parade. We’re very excited about it,” said Mei Ieong, a Delta Delta Delta sorority sister.
Homecoming is early this year because of the ‘Canes athletic calendar, committee members said.
“FSU is our last home game for a while,” Barroso said. “We chose the latest week possible without getting into the holidays or reading days.”
Several changes have been made since last year. Organized cheer will take place in the Wellness Center so as not to get rained out again.
The committee scheduled the Alma Mater singing contest on the Rock in hopes of attracting some of the crowds in the UC.
Organizers and students claim that homecoming promotion has been more visible than ever.
“I didn’t even know all these activities existed last year,” sophomore Rachel Rand said. “Now that I’m aware, I want get more involved.”
Over 20 student organizations are participating in homecoming events, including most of the sororities and fraternities, COISO and the Federacion de Estudiantes Cubanos [FEC].
“Homecoming is a great way for freshmen to get to see the organizations on campus in their element,” Barroso said.
“I’m going to hang out with my fellow FEC members,” freshman Stephanie Martinez said.
Freshman Brian Ewald has no reservations about going to homecoming events.
“I’m excited to help represent the GLBC at Homecoming,” he said.
According to those planning to participate in the events, homecoming is a time for everyone to relax, have fun and show some spirit.
“I thought organized cheer last year was hilarious,” said Michelle Boyd, a resident assistant in Stanford Residential College. “I’ll definitely go again.”
“The parade was really nice [last year] – cool floats.” sophomore Cecily Chambliss said.
Homecoming is also an opportunity for organizations and individuals alike to give back to the UM community.
“A major part of the homecoming festivities revolve around the volunteering of our students to help our surrounding community,” Barroso said. “This year we have a record number of students participating in this event.”
The Homecoming Blood Drive will take place Sept. 30 – Oct. 3 and gives the entire University community a chance to donate blood to the Florida Blood Bank.
The grand finale to homecoming will be the UM vs. FSU game, Oct. 12 at the Orange Bowl.