Rory Heath grabs a hot dog and a plate. After loading it up with tomatoes and onions, he reaches down and fishes out a Dr. Pepper from a bucket full of soda cans.
The junior business major was one of the many students who littered the Plaza Tuesday afternoon for the kick-off cookout and treasure hunt, signaling the commencement of CSU’s annual –Homecoming and Family Weekend festivities.
But Tuesday’s barbecue gave students and community members only a taste of what the remaining five days of Homecoming tradition has to offer.
“Homecoming gives you a sense of pride,” Heath said. “You learn more about the school and feel like you have a sense of entitlement to the university.”
This year’s theme, “Rooted in Our Past, Growing Toward Our Future – A Celebration of History and Vision,” is on loan from Laurel Elementary School, which is celebrating its 100-year anniversary today.
Plans for Homecoming have been in the works since last spring, said Ashley Blocton, campus coordinator for ASAP. Homecoming is one of the school’s biggest events, sparking collaboration from a variety of CSU entities including ASAP (Association for Student Activity Planning), ASCSU, the Student Alumni Connection and the Alumni Association.
The week also doubles as a chance for families to visit students and “see what CSU is all about,” Blocton said.
Jason Gordon, a freshman construction management major, said he’s looking forward to his dad coming into town for Family Weekend. Gordon was a volunteer at the kick-off cookout on behalf of his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta.
“It’s a good thing that (Homecoming and Family Weekend) are at the same time,” he said. “It lets parents help support the university also.”
This year, the groups involved are trying to entice more student involvement by giving away a 30-gig iPod. Volunteers will be handing out tickets at every event. Students get a ticket for each event they attend and at the end-of-the-week bonfire one lucky winner will be drawn.
The traditional bonfire, along with fireworks and the lighting of the “A,” happens on Friday from 8 to 9 p.m. on the West Lawn of the Lory Student Center. Students must be present to accept the prize.
But beyond the prize giveaways and free food, most agreed that Homecoming was an event rooted in tradition and important for the university and community alike.
“It brings CSU as a campus together to learn more about CSU’s history and see what it has accomplished,” said Blocton, a junior psychology major. “It’s a fun event and the more students who get involved the better. Hopefully it only grows from here.”
Features managing editor Amanda Schank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.