Homecoming — the annual event held each fall where family, friends and alumni return to Southern Utah University to honor their legacy, watch sporting events, reunite with old friends and create new memories.
However, for the first time in SUU history, football games, pep rallies, concerts, boat races and dance parties are a few of the many things that won’t be happening during the 2020 SUU Homecoming Week.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing guidelines, a T-Bird’s homecoming experience might look a little different this year.
Regardless of circumstances, the Student Programming Board and SUU Alumni Association knew the show had to go on.
“We are doing our best to keep as much of the same things as we can,” Megan Baker, SPB President, said. “Something like this is a tradition that we know we can’t just skip this year.”
On many ends, planning Homecoming has been no easy task.
“Our team has sat down several times and bounced around ideas,” Baker said. “We wanted to get it just right and make sure that we can successfully execute an event that is not only coronavirus safe, but wanted by the students.”
Amid the pandemic, the SPB team and SUU Alumni Association have created a week full of events in hopes to bring the SUU family back together.
“I hope that students will see homecoming week as a week of events that are in a safe space,” Baker expressed. “Because things are so crazy and it is really hard to meet new students…I hope students see Homecoming as a good opportunity to safely interact with others and to meet people.”
Starting Monday, Sept. 21, the alumni association is sponsoring a ‘Decorate Your Space’ contest. Participants are encouraged to decorate their desk, room, door, car, yard, or any space in SUU gear and post pictures on Facebook or Instagram. Those that tag @SUUAlumni and use #SUUHomecoming will have a chance to win T-Bird prize packs.
Monday night, the SPB invites all SUU Students to attend a drive-in movie featuring Disney’s Onward, held at 8 p.m. on the lower practice field.
For the first time in SUU history, the annual Mr and Miss SUU competition will be combined into one virtual event on Tuesday, Sept.22 at 6 p.m.
“Mr and Miss SUU have been my favorite for the past couple of years,” Baker said. “I am really excited to see all of the contestants interacting with each other, as opposed to just the Mr. and just the Miss contestants. I think it will be a very different dynamic and I am really excited for it.”
The event will be livestreamed on the SPB and Alumni Facebook pages.
Wednesday, Sept. 23 will feature ‘Yoga on the Quad’ in hopes to help students relax and get outside. It will be held from 7-8 p.m. on the Multipurpose Quad.
A virtual 5K race will be held Thursday, Sept.24. However, the 5K (3.1 miles) race can be completed anytime during homecoming week. Participants are encouraged to submit their times in order to be considered for the opportunity drawing.
For more information or to register for the virtual 5K, click here.
One of SUU’s most popular Homecoming events, Forever Red, will take place on Friday, Sept. 25, starting at 8 p.m. Events will be held all around campus with fireworks starting at 10 p.m.
This event will be student focused, but alumni and family are encouraged to participate by watching SUTV-9 Live Stream.
In lieu of a Homecoming Parade, a virtual Shoe Box Parade will be held Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Anyone associated with SUU is encouraged to decorate a shoebox and submit a picture to be featured in the parade.
Entries must be submitted by Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 5 p.m. To register, click here.
The event will be streamed from the SPB and SUU Alumni Facebook Pages.
Homecoming will conclude with ‘Cedar Breaks Day,’ an afternoon and evening dedicated to hiking, stargazing and enjoying National Lands Day. Guided hikes and motorized tours will be held from 1- 5 p.m. with stargazing starting at dusk.
“We are kind of excited to see what happens this year,” Baker said. “To look back in ten years at 2020 homecoming week, we hope it is full of good memories and crazy times.”
All in-person events require masks and social distancing.
For more information regarding Homecoming, visit SUU’s Homecoming page.
Story: Easton Bowring
Photo Courtesy of SUU News