Homecoming activities to begin Monday

Kara McIntyre

Lip sync. Torchlight parade. Bonfire. Cardboard boat race. Bubble soccer. Just a few of the events of the most anticipated week of the year — homecoming.

“We start planning months beforehand. We’ve already had four meetings with the student organizations that are registered,” Mario Ramirez, activities coordinator for Student Development and Orientation, said. “It takes a lot of commitment from our staff and our office in general. We’re coming in early and staying late. I would average about double the amount of hours.”

This year, there is more focus on the decorations and advertising for homecoming than there has been in past years, according to Ramirez. He says the homecoming student committee plans on wrapping the campus trees in maroon and gold and placing big street stickers around campus – the first in front of the Wellness Center, the second in Sunwatcher Plaza, the third in the stadium, and the fourth somewhere near Clark Student Center.

“Every year after homecoming, there’s a committee review on how the week went,” Ramirez said. “After we met last year, people said we needed to be able to see homecoming in more places and have more decorations, which is something we’re trying to work on this year.” 

One week of homecoming costs about $29,000, according to assistant director of Student Development and Orientation Kevin Bazner. This money is allocated to T-shirts, decorations, entertainment (i.e. hypnotist Chris Jones, bubble soccer equipment, etc.), and especially the bonfire.

“It’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work with the facilities and ground crew to make sure that we have the base, the pallets, and things of that nature, but also to reserve any equipment, having plans in place for parking lot closures, announcements, etc., and especially taking risk management into consideration,” Bazner said. “It’s one of our late night events, but if you ask any of the students, it’s one of the events they look forward to the most and one of the ones they remember after they graduate.”

Jacob Warren, homecoming student committee member and economics sophomore, agreed with Bazner about the bonfire.

“The bonfire is the iconic thing that I remember from last year,” Warren said. “Walking around with all the students, even people I’d never seen before, brought a sense of community.”

Biology sophomore and homecoming student committee member Thomas Mammen said that the committee plays the role of an “umbrella organization” during homecoming week.

“All the competitions, decorations, designs, rules, regulations, etc. are done by the homecoming committee,” Mammen said. “They basically run the whole thing as a collective unit.”

With a confident smirk, Mammen folded his arms behind his head and discussed his favorite homecoming event.

“The bonfire, torchlight parade, and lip sync are all tied together in one night, so it gets the most student turnout,” Mammen said. “Even some Wichita Falls natives come out for those events, and that’s why those three together are my favorites.”

Ramirez leaned back in his chair and gave a wide smile as he discussed his prediction of this year’s homecoming turnout.

“There’s a lot more excitement already building up for homecoming this year, so I think we’ll have a bigger turnout at all of the events. It’s really up to the organizations to get spirited and how much they excite not just their members, but other students as well.”