Students Keep Homecoming Traditions Alive

By Aaliyah Weathers

Students Keep Homecoming Traditions Alive

By Aaliyah Weathers
From decorating ornaments for the Spirit Tree to an a cappella remix of the Alma Mater, Homecoming week competitions engage students in annual traditions.

University of Miami traditions connect ’Canes of all ages in a shared sense of belonging and pride, and one of the most spirited annual traditions is Alumni Weekend and Homecoming. Each fall, alumni return to campus to reunite with classmates and recharge their connection to the U. For students, it’s a time to build the memories they’ll reminisce about years from now and celebrate what makes the U such a special place.

From decorating ornaments for the University’s only orange tree (the Spirit Tree) to an a cappella remix of the Alma Mater, the Homecoming week is jam-packed with spirited events in which student organizations compete for coveted bragging rights. United Black Students, Federacion de Estudiantes Cubanos, Association of Commuter Students, Council of International Students and Organizations, and SpectrUM were among the participants in this year’s “The Magic in U” events, a theme that captured the enchanting feeling across campus all week.

The UM Alumni Association oversees all Alumni Weekend activities, while all Homecoming events are organized by the student-run Homecoming Executive Committee (HEC). A full semester prior to Alumni Weekend and Homecoming, HEC members begin choosing the theme, establishing the guidelines, coordinating with faculty judges, and arranging each event.

Student Government Vice President Coleman Reardon, a senior, joined HEC year after competing in the Alma Mater competition his freshman and has been active in Homecoming planning ever since.

“All these different ‘Canes from different types of backgrounds, from all different years are coming back and remembering and celebrating their University in the same way that has been done for so many years prior,” Reardon said, noting that the competitions blend spirit, tradition, and originality to allow student organizations to shine creatively.

Beyond the Homecoming competition, which this year was a tied victory between Federacion de Estudiantes Cubano and Association of Commuter Students, there were several other Homecoming events that engaged students. The week kicked off on Saturday, October 28, with “The Magic of Service,” a joint community service day effort of HEC and Gandhi Day. Hurricane Productions, the student-run entertainment and programming board that plans the annual Homecoming concert, brought electronic duo Cash Cash and headlining rapper A$AP Ferg to the Watsco Center on Thursday, November 2. Student hip-hop and R&B collective Fire x Squad was the concert’s opening act, an honor earned by winning a Hurricane Productions social media competition.

The events culminated on Friday night at Hurricane Howl, where students, faculty and alumni were invited to enjoy food trucks and a block party before the annual parade looped around Stanford Drive, led by former Carolina Panthers linebacker and parade grand marshal Jon Beason, ’06. Also featured in the parade were student organizations and the reveal of the 2017 Homecoming King and Queen, senior Gabrielle Hand and junior Anthony Preston, both representing United Black Students at the pageant earlier in the week. The night concluded with the ceremonious boat burning and fireworks show around Lake Osceola, accompanied by a storybook-like tale of the University’s rich history.

As the boat burning predicted (the mast hit the water before the boat sank), the Hurricanes dominated on the football field against Virginia Tech Saturday night, finishing with a score of 28-10. This game was a pivotal one for the undefeated team, as it won the ‘Canes a television spot on ABC next week for the game against Notre Dame.