Changes come to Homecoming

Joe Carlson

Elizabeth O’Sullivan

The celebrations before the football game between the Gophers and the Michigan State Spartans will include events designed to draw participation from students faculty, students’ parents and others at the St. Paul campus.
“In years past, it has been an all-Greek event,” said Homecoming Committee Chairman Geoff Grimmer. “We’re striving toward an all-campus event.”
This year, the pepfest, coronation and bonfire will be held on the St. Paul campus. Traditionally, they have been held in the field next to Sanford Hall.
The change came about in part because the new Roy Wilkins Hall stands on the site where the bonfire used to be held, and partly because planners wanted to draw the St. Paul campus into the Homecoming activities.
“We were kind of stuck with no place to go,” said Homecoming Committee spokesman Tom Lukanen. The open area behind the St. Paul Student Center, known as the pit, is bigger than the field near Sanford, Lukanen said, so the bonfire and the whole event can be bigger.
Homecoming Committee member Wanda Kanwischer said people at the St. Paul campus said that they wanted to hold the bonfire there. The last time the bonfire was in St. Paul was during the 1960s, she added.
Homecoming Committee member Doris Mold said, “we decided that we wanted the bonfire,” in St. Paul, and then “decided to have the pepfest correlate with the bonfire.”
The Homecoming parade route has been changed this year too, because of Dinkytown bridge construction. It will begin on University Avenue Southeast and will travel on Fourth Avenue Southeast for a few blocks before returning to University Avenue Southeast.
The parade will pass by fraternity row on University Avenue Southeast, though last spring planners didn’t think that would be possible. Greek groups along that row are already constructing fronts for their houses.
The fronts, elaborate displays on the lawns of greek houses akin to the floats in the parade, have long been a part of Homecoming tradition.
The Homecoming Committee also organized new events to give a fresh spin to an old tradition. One of the biggest is a parents’ day, called A Place for Parents at Homecoming.
About 500 parents are expected to attend. They will have reserved seating at the game and the parade, and will attend a brunch where they can mingle with professors and administrators.
Marjorie Savage, co-chair of the subcommittee that organized parents’ day, said that aside from an orientation day, the University does not hold special events for parents.
“There really hasn’t been a parents’ weekend or a parents’ day at the U,” Savage said. “If there was, it goes way back.”
Faculty and student groups can also get involved in an event called the “M Contest.” Each department or student organization has to build a free-standing “M” with materials that reflect its group.
The results of their efforts will be displayed first at the St. Paul Student Center and then outside Coffman Memorial Union. They will be judged on Friday, Oct. 18.
Another new event is a 5-kilometer run on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 19. And any registered University student can compete in a three-on-three basketball tournament Saturday, Oct. 12.
Several new events are taking place on the St. Paul campus as well. On Friday, Food Services will be holding a barbecue behind the student center, Kanwischer said. Students who have residence hall meal contracts will be able to use them there.
Later that night, St. Paul greek alumni will perform a series of impromptu skits prior to a street dance on Buford Ave., which will run until 1 a.m..
On Saturday, the new Harvest Bowl Farmer’s Share Breakfast will take place.
“The people who come to the breakfast will pay what the farmer would receive for the food,” which is usually between 22 and 24 percent of grocery store prices, committee member Doris Mold said.
Traditional events will be held in addition to the new ones on both campuses.
Prospective Homecoming royalty will be doing leap-frogs today in front of Coffman Memorial Union, said Shenoa Simpson, royalty coordinator. It is one of the many tasks they must undertake to prove their enthusiasm and ardent determination to be crowned.
“We want to see lots of spirit out there, because that’s mostly what the royalty is for — to get school spirit going,” Simpson said.
St. Paul Day, which is Oct. 15, will include various activities from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., such as a cow-chip-throwing contest and a Frisbee competition.
The bonfire is scheduled for 9 p.m. that day. Kanwischer said that the Michigan State mascot, a Spartan warrior, will probably be burned in effigy in the fire pit.
Saturday at 10 a.m. is the Little Red Oil Can Award ceremony. The award is given to five students, faculty and alumni in recognition of their achievements and contributions to the St. Paul campus.
Fraternity and sorority houses on both campuses are already working on floats for the Homecoming parade and the decorative fronts for their houses. Mandley Davis, a child psychology sophomore and member of Delta Tau Delta, said that designing a front for the house takes a lot of time, but he can feel proud of it when it is done.
“It lets the team know the whole community is behind them,” Davis said.