On the surface, the Illinois State University Homecoming Week seems pretty standard. A red and black decorated campus with streamers and balloons, tailgating and of course—the football game. However, if you’re willing to dig a little deeper you can discover the real magic behind this year’s homecoming theme: A Normal Tradition.
Starting out in 1857, the school was known as Illinois State Normal University. The word ‘normal’ meant that ISU started off as a school solely dedicated to teaching education. It wasn’t until the 1960s that ISU got its abbreviated name and began offering other majors. Prior to homecoming week, I never knew the process ISU went through to become the not so normal school it is today.
Since the school’s formative years, ISU traditions have become a staple in our homecoming events. Fast-forwarding to this week, students have an abundance of activities to look forward to. It’s a privilege to be a part of ISU history in the making!
To start off the week, on Monday, ISU is hosting the Homecoming Kickoff cookout starting at 6 p.m. on the quad. The cookout will be a prime opportunity for some delicious barbecue, games, and a chance to meet ISU President Dietz. The marching band and cheerleaders will host an energizing rally and the homecoming court will be announced.
Then on Tuesday, expect some wild activity as the Redbird Rumble will take place at Hancock Stadium. Teams will show off their athletic skills by competing in outrageous fitness competitions. The best part? Faculty participates too. You might see your serious professor out there sprinting around and having a blast like a little kid!
Wednesday’s activity is one I’m most looking forward to which is the Homecoming Carnival! Gamma Phi Circus will perform a daring show featuring all kinds of tricks and acrobatic routines that I only wish I could do. Other activities include henna tattoos, a magician, and more free food (which means everyone’s definitely having a cheat week!).
Friday will mark the close of homecoming week before the big game. There will be a Homecoming Finale event including a DJ, sign decorating, and MORE free food (so I’m obviously going).
Just as you think the week can’t get any more exhilarating, the actual game day will finally arrive! Saturday will kick off with the Town and Gown 5K at 8 a.m. The starting line will be near the Student Fitness Center. Hundreds are anticipated to run, sporting anything from running gear to bright red and black tutus.
The Homecoming Parade will start at 10 a.m. on College and University. Even college-aged kids can appreciate all the school-spirited floats put together by fellow students. And I mean, the free candy doesn’t hurt either.
Right after the parade, everyone’s favorite tailgating event begins outside of Turner Hall. Look out for the School of Communication’s spot for some delicious smoked turkey legs and music from our very own WZND.
Finally, the event that started it all: The Homecoming Game! ISU is playing against Youngstown State this year at 2 p.m. and it is expected to be a thrilling game. Everyone from little siblings to returning alumni will be there to watch the Redbirds battle the Penguins.
With the transition from September to October comes the building excitement for homecoming week. It’s hard to deny that buzzing energy building up to the game. Whether it’s your first or last school year, homecoming will always cultivate that magical school-spirit feeling that comes from the traditions passed down year after year.
Written by Elizabeth Lynch
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.