Things we love about Illinois: Homecoming

Alma celebrating Homecoming (Image courtesy of UI Public Affairs)
One of our favorite things about our favorite institution of higher education.

UI alumni have been returning “home” for a special fall weekend longer than any other alumni in the nation.

Credit 1910 UI graduates Clarence Foss Williams and W. Elmer Ekblaw, who prior to commencement expressed interest in making a lasting contribution to their Alma Mater—their first step in organizing an annual fall celebration uniting gridiron grit with parades and parties.

Like alumni, some Homecoming traditions return changed. Homecoming Court has evolved from a popularity contest to crown a queen into recognition of a royal couple and their courts for academic achievement. Other traditions remain untouched, including Friday night’s convertible ride amid the fraternity floats and marching musicians of Homecoming Parade, an event that concludes with a Pep Rally on the Quad outside Foellinger Auditorium. The rally celebrates all things Illini—Illinettes, Marching Illini and, of course, the Fighting Illini, pumped up for the following afternoon’s game.

Homecoming Saturday at Memorial Stadium. What can compare to an autumn day in Urbana-Champaign? Tent parties rule outside stadium walls. Within, sunlight strikes waves of orange and blue in the stands. Marching Illini stride in perfect time, tune and formation. Cheerleaders leap, and players enter the stadium to an appreciative crowd. Nothing like it in the world.

Did we miss one? For more in this series, search “Things we love about Illinois.”