Freshmen and sophomores look forward to first in-person homecoming week at the U

As anticipation rises for homecoming week, sophomores are among those most looking forward to this year’s activities, which promise to bring back the traditional celebration that COVID-19 restrictions tempered last year.

“I feel like the energy wasn’t fully there on campus because many of our events were online and we didn’t get that social interaction that freshmen normally would,” said sophomore Lindsey Faucher, a member of the Homecoming Executive Committee. “It’s super exciting yet a bit worrisome because I haven’t seen homecoming myself and the first time that I’m seeing it, I’m organizing it.”

Faucher is one of 30 members of the homecoming committee led by senior Grace Tenke, a finance, marketing and management major.

The group, which has been working for weeks to develop activities for the “Bring Back the Beat” homecoming theme, said more events are being planned this year and for the first time, the Lakeside Village areas will be included in the festivities.

“We have the opportunity to really make homecoming something special,” Tenke said.

The Hurricanettes and members of the Frost Band of the Hour perform during the Homecoming theme reveal and celebration at the Lakeside Patio on Sept. 10, 2021.
The Hurricanettes and members of the Frost Band of the Hour perform during the Homecoming theme reveal and celebration at the Lakeside Patio on Sept. 10, 2021. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

“It’s about bringing students together, whether they’re a part of an organization that’s competing at homecoming. If you’re just someone who loves the Hurricanes; or if you’re just coming out for a bite to eat and a good show, it’s a unifying experience for the campus community, and that to me is what makes it special,” said Joshua Brandfon, senior director of Student Activities, Student Organizations and Student Center Complex Programs.

Events begin Nov. 1 with Opening Ceremonies and ‘Canes Spirit Day, continuing throughout the week with the King and Queen pageant, Spirit Tree ceremony, Hurricanes Help the Hometown, the Alma Mater competition and the Hurricane Howl ceremony.

The committee has combined traditional homecoming events along with activities that were added last year as a part of “Canes Spirit Week,” including “Pancakes With Pat” and “Donuts With Duerk,” said Brandfon, who advises the homecoming committee.

Both events, which invite students to have refreshments while talking informally with Patricia A. Whitely, senior vice president for Student Affairs and Provost Jeffrey L. Duerk, were part of Canes Spirit Week last year, Brandfon said.

Senior Rosaline Polycarpe, responsible for planning all homecoming events for the United Black Students team through her role as first vice president of the organization, said she is looking forward to all her organization’s hard work paying off during homecoming week.

“I feel that a lot of people aren’t familiar with homecoming and the school spirit isn’t as high because it didn’t take place traditionally last year,” Polycarpe said. “While the preparation process can be a lot, the end result will be fulfilling because even if we don’t win, I want my participants to enjoy the experience.”

One of the most anticipated events is “Hurricane Howl,” a ceremony Nov. 5 that includes live music, food trucks, the traditional boat burning ceremony and most importantly, the fireworks.

“That moment when you’re standing out by Lake Osceola on Friday night and the fireworks are going off, you can see the joy in the faces of the committee members and students,” Brandfon said.

The Hurricane Howl fireworks ceremony is spectacular, said Chika Nwosu, director of Student Government’s Outreach Committee who is heading the events for Student Government’s homecoming team.

“It’s a beautiful and magical ceremony that almost feels like Disney on our own college campus,” said Nwosu, a junior biology and psychology major. “Up until that point in my freshman year, I felt as if I were just attending the university, but once we were sitting around the lake with the fireworks in action, it made me realize that I truly loved my school.”