By Shannon Vicic
The UI will mark its 87th annual Homecoming in an expanded celebration Oct. 20-26. This year's theme is "Homecoming Strikes Back."
Expanded from four to six days, Homecoming 1997 will feature a variety of events, ranging from the traditional parade and pep rally to a five-kilometer run.
"The expansion of the celebration is to raise awareness that Homecoming as a national collegiate tradition originated at the UI," said Jeff Johnson, director of alumni relations for the Urbana-Champaign campus.
"This year's celebration has been designed to convey that Homecoming isn't merely another weekend for UI athletics, but also is a celebration of the many traditions of this campus," Johnson said. The UI's first Homecoming was in 1910.
Highlights of this year's Homecoming:
Oct. 20: Kickoff ceremony, noon, south side of the Illini Union. The ceremony will feature remarks from Chancellor Michael Aiken, entertainment by The Other Guys, and the introduction of the Homecoming court. During the ceremony, the university will unveil the official Homecoming banner, to be displayed over Green Street throughout the week.
The ceremony will be held in conjunction with Lunch on the Quad, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"We encourage everyone in the university and community to meet on the Quad for lunch and enjoy the festive atmosphere, which will include not only entertainment but also spectacular new Homecoming decorations," Johnson said.
Oct. 20: "The Ron Turner Show," 7 to 8 p.m., the Courtyard Cafe in the Illini Union. UI football coach Ron Turner's radio show will be broadcast live from the cafe on WDWS-AM (1400) and WHMS-FM (97.5). The community is encouraged to participate in the program.
Oct. 22: 5K Run, 5 p.m., Illini Meadows, southeast corner of Lincoln and Florida avenues, Urbana. No registration is required. For route information, contact the Student Alumni Association at 333-9827.
Oct. 24: Orange and Blue Day. People are encouraged to wear orange and blue to show their support for the UI. Local businesses and residents should display their UI flags Oct. 24 and 25, Johnson said.
Oct. 24: Parade and Pep Rally. Parade begins at 5 p.m. For the parade route, contact the Panhellenic or Interfraternity Councils, 333-3308 or 333-3742.
In addition to the expansion of Homecoming into a nearly weeklong event, several other changes have been made in this year's celebration. The parade route has been lengthened to include more of the campus. The parade will end at the South Terrace at the corner of First and Peabody avenues in Champaign, where the pep rally will be held immediately afterward.
The pep rally's program will include the crowning of the Homecoming king and queen, presentation of float awards and a performance by the Marching Illini. The pep rally will conclude with the lighting of a bonfire a rekindling of a tradition from past Homecomings.
The Welcome Center, in the Illini Union North Lounge, will be open to visitors from 2 to 6 p.m., Oct. 23; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Oct. 24; and 8 to 10:30 a.m., Oct. 25.
Visitors to the center can sign-on to an online Homecoming guest book and post information about their whereabouts to help them keep in touch with other alumni and friends during Homecoming.
For a complete schedule of Homecoming events, stop by the Alumni Association at 227 Illini Union or call 333-1471. More information also is available at the association's Web site, http://www.uiaa.org/urbana/U40002.htm.