The Homecoming Executive Committee (HEC) hosted another successful Homecoming week with in-person festivities from Nov. 1 to 6 that began with Monday’s opening ceremony and ended with Saturday’s football game. After the mostly-virtual ‘Canes Spirit Week last year, this year’s “Bring the Beat Back” theme revived the Homecoming excitement that existed before COVID-19.
While the entire UM community enjoyed the outcome of their hard work and dedication, Homecoming couldn’t happen without the members of HEC, a diverse cohort of 30 students who planned months in advance.
Meera Patel, a junior majoring in public health and microbiology & immunology, served on the Hurricanes Help the Hometown (HHTH) committee. A member since March 2020, Patel applied for HEC during the spring of her freshman year.
“I wanted to be a part of a spirited family here on campus and I knew the Homecoming Executive Committee could offer me just that,” Patel said. “Everyone on the committee unites to put on an amazing week and has fun doing it.”
Patel’s committee hosts the annual service event and this year they partnered with Camp Kesem to build care packages for the campers. Though she values community service, Patel most enjoys the sense of belonging on campus that Homecoming promotes.
“My favorite part of Homecoming is knowing that people will feel at home after the week is over,” Patel said.
Similarly, Hurricane Howl committee member Gustavo Tovar expressed his appreciation for the wide display of school spirit.
“It is so much fun to see the school come to life in a way that only Homecoming week is capable of doing,” said Tovar, a senior double majoring in geological sciences and ecosystem science & policy. “The flurry of orange and green, the chants and cheers during the competitions and even the happy smiles — and sometimes misty eyes — of everyone during the fireworks show make it all worthwhile.”
While Hurricane Howl featured food, games and the iconic fireworks and boat burning, its committee members spent hours perfecting the details of the memorable evening, such as editing the script and recording the narration for the fireworks, painting the colors of the Homecoming rival on the boat and overseeing its completion.
As a transfer student, Tovar first experienced Homecoming in the fall of 2019.
“I never really got to experience a school with as much spirit and tradition as the U,” Tovar said. “I knew that I had to get involved in the planning in any way possible.”
Like Patel, his initial experience as an HEC member fell during the peak of COVID-19. However, the lightened restrictions this year allowed the Hurricane Howl committee, and all the others, to “bring the beat back” and create a memorable week for the entire UM community.