Traditions for days – UI students celebrate homecoming with variety of traditions
In the 103rd year of homecoming celebrations, University of Idaho students had the opportunity to participate in many events throughout the week to showcase their Vandal pride.
The start of the homecoming celebrations always begins the Sunday prior to the homecoming football game with the official kickoff. This year the kickoff event included a campus-wide scavenger hunt that ended at the VandalStore plaza with Yell like Hell, the first competition between homecoming teams.
“It used to just be cheers or skits but it’s adapted over the years into Yell like Hell and it’s a way for each team or living group that participates to express their vandal pride with a yell, and of course it’s a competition,” said Ferrol Pemberton, homecoming committee chair.
Homecoming royalty is selected each year by the student body to represent the Vandal family during the homecoming Friday and Saturday homecoming events, Pemberton said.
Six male and six female finalists were selected for the final round of student voting.
“At bonfire on Friday night we crown royalty, which is really cool for all the students who were nominated or involved in that,” Pemberton said. “It’s a really big honor to be recognized by your peers as someone they would like to have represent the university.”
Another tradition and team competition, the homecoming Jingles, took place Wednesday and have been an important part of homecoming week for several generations of students although the tradition has changed over time.
“We try and adapt every year to how students react to things,” Pemberton said. “A lot of alumni do remember it which makes it a key point of homecoming for us and why we focus on it so much.”
Pemberton said the jingles used to be homecoming skits, but recently the committee decided to add a musical element.
“It’s like a modified Yell like Hell but it’s more of a Vandal centered skit where students can get up and act their Vandal pride,” Pemberton said. “Just recently we’ve required a musical element so that the students can be a little bit more creative and it allows us as a committee to get the student population away from inappropriate skits or things like that.”
The homecoming celebrations will continue Friday night beginning with the Serpentine at 8 p.m.
“The serpentine is just a way to get as many students involved as possible,” Pemberton said. “It starts at the president’s house and we go through New Greek, through Old Greek, we head down Sixth Street to the residence halls and then we head up through the parking lot to the bonfire. It’s like a preliminary parade but it’s all about Vandal pride and getting the excitement up and everyone hyped up for the bonfire.”
The serpentine will end at the bonfire where the ceremonial flag burning of the opposing team will take place. Head coach Robb Akey and athletic director Rob Spear will speak at the bonfire to get the crowd excited for the game on Saturday.
At the bonfire, homecoming royalty will be crowned and students will participate in the Most Vandalized Fan contest.
“One representative from every team that participates in homecoming gets up, paints themselves — puts all sorts of craziness on themselves and then the crowd votes by cheering,” Pemberton said.
Latah Federal Credit Union Fireworks Extravaganza
The Friday night celebrations end with a fireworks show. The show will be sponsored by the Latah Federal Credit Union thanks to a substantial donation to the fundraising efforts for the show.
“This year we have the privilege of having a sponsor for the fireworks, which is great,” Pemberton said. “We’re actually able to give a fireworks show that is bigger than we’ve ever done before.”
The annual homecoming parade will take place on Main Street beginning at 10 a.m. prior to the football game.
“As of right now we have 89 entries for this year,” Pemberton said. “That reaches from Spokane to Lewiston and farther down of people who participate in the parade as well as local businesses, clubs, different things.”
Tailgate and the game
Following the parade, the tailgate will open at 12 p.m. and continue until the game starts at 2 p.m.
“Throughout the week one of the main things we do are our philanthropy events.” Pemberton said.
Pemberton said the events have changed over the years, but the idea of UI giving back to the community has remained the same.
“Now we do the blood drive and the food drive,” Pemberton said. “The blood drive allows the students to give back to their community and the food drive allows the community to give back to the community.”
This year the homecoming committee introduced two new events that they hope will be incorporated into future homecoming celebrations. The first, A Toast to Idaho Alumni Brunch, will take place on at 9 a.m. Sunday after the game at the Best Western University Inn.
“It’s to allow people to come back to really express their appreciation for the university and the people within it,” Pemberton said. “It’s never been done before and we’re really excited to see how it goes over.”
The final tradition the committee hoped to incorporate into the traditions is a commemorative homecoming patch.
“This is the first year that we’ve ever taken the homecoming logo and created a patch — a sew on or iron on patch that you can put on anything,” Pemberton said. “We’re hoping that every year from here on out the committee will choose to do a patch as well as a button so that alumni can collect them over the years.”
Kaitlyn Krasselt can be reached at email@example.com