Ishaan Shah was blown away as he watched the fireworks from the Fate Bridge.
After nine months of planning the 2019 Homecoming and Alumni Weekend as a member of the Homecoming Executive Committee, Shah said seeing the boat burning ceremony and fireworks with other HEC members Friday, Nov. 8, made everything worth it.
“We got the chance to see thousands of students light up the lake with their glowing bracelets, making the scene almost magical,” Shah said. “Everyone enjoyed themselves, which was our main goal.”
Other students also had positive things to say about the event.
“With all the energy and decorations around the lake, you really begin to get a sense of Disney-esque magic,” said Ali Mirza, a junior biochemistry and classics major.
He said his favorite part of the week was watching the fireworks explode over the lake as he glimpsed around “to see generations of students and alumni enjoying the spectacle.”
While the boat burning ceremony and fireworks were the most popular on-campus events of homecoming, they were preceded by an entire week of activities, competition and school pride.
Homecoming 2019 kicked off with opening ceremonies and spirit day on Monday, Nov. 4, where UM students enjoyed free catered barbeque and live music.
About 2,800 people attended, including football coach Manny Diaz and women’s basketball coach Katie Meier.
That night, the celebrations continued as the homecoming court was crowned.
Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos member Mike Huzior and Sunsations dancer Chelsea Lovell won king and queen, respectively, after an evening of dancing, cheering and lip-syncing.
In total, there were six contestants in each category competing for the title.
Landon Coles, a sophomore political science major and co-chair of the King and Queen Pageant, said more than six months of choreographing and rehearsing went into that night.
“We, as chairs, have the opportunity to forge close bonds with contestants whose success means success for the overall pageant,” Coles said. “All of us became a large family and team in that we planned and executed this pageant together.”
Day two entailed many school-spirited activities, starting with the Spirit Tree competition.
Student organizations decorated ornaments for the Spirit Tree located behind the Ashe Administration Building and presented their creation to judges. The Association of Commuter Students were victorious and took the first place title.
The alma mater preliminary competition took place later that day to see who would be performing in the finals that took place Thursday that week. Again, ACS were ranked first, with Tau Beta Sigma receiving second place and FEC coming in third.
But not all of the activities that took place during homecoming week centered around competitions.
Almost 200 students came out Wednesday, Nov. 6, to participate in Hurricanes Help the Hometown.
Right outside of the University Center pool, volunteers assembled and filled boxes with supplies such as baby wipes before writing thank you notes to troops.
In the evening, student organizations battled it out in the Organized Cheer competition.
Shree Patel, a junior majoring in microbiology and immunology and O-Cheer co-chair, said that this was her favorite event because “everybody gets to dance and show their personal creative style, and each organization comes up with something so different.”
Junior transfer student Victor Colombo’s favorite event was also O-Cheer.
“There was competition, it was super great. ACS did a really good job, but [United Black Students] was the best,” Colombo said. “It was out of this world the way they danced.”
Overall, UBS took home the first place title, ACS placed second and FEC received third.
For the annual homecoming concert, hosted by Hurricane Productions Concerts took place Thursday, Nov. 7 and attracted thousands of students to the Watsco Center to watch rapper 21 Savage perform. While many students enjoyed the performance and danced the night away, others were underwhelmed.
“I expected 21 Savage to deliver an engaging concert, but I was highly disappointed when he went on,” said Yasmeen Rabiei, a junior majoring in public health. “I wish they had brought someone who engaged their audience.”
After days of competitive events, the points were tallied up, and the overall winner of the homecoming activities was announced on Friday during Hurricane Howl. FEC took home the grand title.
Andrew Schwee, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering and a member of FEC, said the win was his favorite part of the week.
“We worked so hard all week, and the fact that it all paid off was definitely the best thing,” said Schwee, who participated in O-Cheer, Hurricanes Help the Hometown and the Spirit Tree competition.
Overall, Homecoming and Alumni Weekend is meant to welcome back alumni and celebrate the university. Throughout the week, there were many events that drew in alumni, such as the Canes Lounge.
Many students said they enjoyed meeting past students at the Rat or at the booths at the block party.
Rishubh Shah, a senior neuroscience major and co-chair of the Opening/Spirit Day committee, said his favorite part about homecoming was meeting alumni.
He said he enjoyed hearing their stories about their time at the U and seeing their faces light up at how much has changed since they’ve been gone.
After the week ended, Elizabeth Pozzuoli, chair of HEC and a senior majoring in public relations and marketing reflected saying, “Homecoming is a constant reminder of how special UMiami is.”