The university’s annual Homecoming events are returning to campus this year from Nov. 7-13 with the theme “Keep UNT Groovy.”
This marks the first in-person version of the tradition since 2019, after last year went online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While last year saw event format plans shift, planning for Homecoming 2021 kept the in-person experience in mind, Student Affairs Campus-Wide Events Coordinator Andrea Jackson said.
“Once we got the green light [the university] was moving forward with the full fall experience, we went ahead with the in-person plans,” Jackson said.
One of the larger events this Homecoming will be Funky Fest on Nov. 11, patterned after the week’s ‘70s inspired theme. Co-sponsored by the University Program Council, the festival will feature a variety of activities, including a disco and a movie in the Union. At the time of publication, details like which movie will be played and which areas of the Union will be used are still being finalized.
Also returning this year will be the Homecoming Royalty program, where students can vote on an approved candidate through a merit-based process. Rewards include a $1,000 one-time donation towards a campus impact project, a brick with the name of royalty installed at the Alumni Pavilion and potential speaking engagements on and off campus. Voting for the court will run Monday, Nov. 8, through Thursday, Nov. 11.
“Students will submit an application, go through an interview application and they will get points for participation in games as well as the student vote,” Jackson said.
The Homecoming Team Competition also returns, where students can compete in various events throughout the week. There will be six such contests, split evenly into spirit and service tournaments.
Spirit events will see students compete in events to demonstrate university spirit, such as the spirit board placement on Nov. 7, where teams create posters to show their pride in the university. The second event will be the Scrappy Games on Nov. 9 and the third will be Yell Like Hell the next day.
Service events will focus on students performing charitable acts, such as a collaboration with Rise Against Hunger on Nov. 8, where students will package food to be sent to Honduras. On the same day from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., students can also participate in the Eaglethon donation drive, where materials such as tulle, adult coloring books, teethers, fidget toys and more will be collected.
“The donation drive is where we partner with an external company or UNT department/organization and gather donations for them based on their needs,” Homecoming Crew Service Co-Coordinator Megan McAdams said. “This year, we are partnering with Eaglethon to collect donations. It’s for families of Cook Children’s and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.”
The third and final service event will occur on Nov. 10, where students can turn old shirts into dog toys as part of a partnership with Denton Animal Shelter. As of now, McAdams said the Homecoming Crew is projecting over 300 donations.
The traditional Homecoming bonfire is also returning this year on Nov. 12. Like past years, the fire will be built by the Talons, the university’s spirit team. It will be held during the Team Competition Awards Ceremony, meant to build spirit before the Homecoming football game the next day.
“The bonfire is one of our most traditional events that take place during the week of Homecoming,” Homecoming Crew Bonfire Coordinator Autumn Young said. “We are excited to be back in person and be able to hold such a special and traditional event for our students, community members, and alumni.”
Among the activities which will not be returning this year is the Homecoming Parade, a decision Jackson attributed to declining student participation, as well as the amount of litter produced not aligning with university sustainability policy.
“We decided to move our focus to events we know students will be more likely to come to,” Jackson said.
To promote health and safety at various Homecoming events, social distancing will be encouraged while masks and hand sanitizer will be provided. For event updates, students can check the Homecoming webpage.
Image source UNT Student Affairs