Homecoming: By the Numbers

With a marketing budget of $12,500 , which pays for everything from advertising to temporary tattoos, the University of Minnesota Homecoming Committee has been planning since summer to make sure the student body knows this week is for school spirit and tradition. Homecoming Week kicked off Monday and will run through Saturday when the Gophers take on Northwestern University at the Metrodome. Sophomore James Monderine , one of the campuswide activities coordinators for the Homecoming Committee, said planning an event for a school this large can be a challenge to the behind-the-scenes process. âÄúWe have to find events everyone will get involved with and enjoy,âÄù he said. What students may not know, however, is the Homecoming Committee doesnâÄôt have much say in choosing the theme or naming the grand marshals of the parade. The University Alumni Association, for instance, announced last week that Mickey Mouse and Stan Freese, a University alumnus and Disney executive, will lead SaturdayâÄôs parade. Theme decisions are mainly made by separate groups and organizations, Monderine said. The main focus of the committee is to plan, advertise and run the events throughout the week, Monderine said. âÄúWe really put a lot of time, effort and planning into the events,âÄù he said. âÄúIt takes a lot of work.âÄù While the committee plans the events, environmental science senior and homecoming royalty finalist Megan Hines said she enlisted the help of her sorority sisters to help design a cookie-based âÄúvisual essayâÄù she had to create about herself as a part of the royalty competition. The display not only has to represent themselves, but this yearâÄôs homecoming theme, âÄúMarching into the Future, âÄù Hines said. Along with royalty duties, Hines, a top-five finalist, said her sorority will have spent nearly 400 hours constructing a house front, which will be displayed outside of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity during SaturdayâÄôs parade. âÄúItâÄôs PIKEâÄôs first time putting up a house front,âÄù she said. âÄúSo, we had to start from scratch.âÄù A house front is a float constructed with panels of chicken wire stuffed with tissue paper that, when constructed correctly, make a mosaic design. Alpha Omicron PiâÄôs house front will reflect their theme, âÄúOur futureâÄôs so bright weâÄôre going to need shades,âÄù Hines said. Not all students participate behind the scenes, but some are happy to participate in the events. Biology junior Jenny Gherau took advantage of the free pizza and giveaways being handed out at MondayâÄôs kick-off event outside Coffman Union , and said she thought the week was important. âÄúIt motivates people to be like, âÄòThis is our school and letâÄôs represent it,âÄô she said. âÄúIt brings everyone together.âÄù Hines said as students attend events this week, they should keep in mind the work it takes to put them on. âÄúFor the most part, you come to events and you donâÄôt know these events were planned by students, for students,âÄù she said. Although Monderine will spend much of his homecoming week supervising events, he said the committee members will get some time off to enjoy the week. As for what Monderine said he will do after Saturday is over: âÄúI havenâÄôt even had time to think about it,âÄù he said. âÄúI will definitely take some time to relax, thatâÄôs for sure.âÄù