Event Planning: Florida Tech Homecoming Edition

This year I had the privilege of being Homecoming Chair for my fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega. I never realized how much work actually goes into organizing each aspect of homecoming week. There were a lot of late nights stressing over if the float would be finished, if the LipSync Dance was rehearsed enough and even if we’d be able to get enough people at each event. Fraternities and sororities had to have 80% attendance at each event in order to stay in the running for homecoming king/queen, as well as to get the incentives the Greek Life Office put out for fraternities/sororities to attend homecoming.

Homecoming really begins two weeks prior with the selection of king/queen. More often than not, a fraternity will pair with a sorority and each chapter would pick either a king/queen to represent them and then they’d split the week’s duties (float building/LipSync, etc.) Other organizations that are co-ed often just do it themselves. This year we opted to fly solo and not pair up with another organization which made finding a queen interesting. In the end, a brother’s girlfriend ended up wanting to do it, so it worked out. The theme this year was “There’s No Place Like Homecoming” so everything resembled The Wizard of Oz.

Here’s the homecoming schedule with some of my notes:

Tuesday October 22, 2013:
Opening Ceremony, Columbia Village 
This was a pretty low key event, free food, free shirts and starting games for the king/queen contestants, one of which involved them smashing eggs over each other’s heads. Somehow I got dragged into this and ended up having to wash egg out of my hair that night.

Wednesday October 23, 2013:
Talent Show, Clemente Center

This event was huge! It was key to the homecoming standings. Some groups spend weeks preparing for this while others kind of wing it. For those in the running for homecoming king/queen, it’s a LipSync competition and for others it’s a chance to show off talents. Groups such as the Swing Dance Club/Belly Dancing Club use the talent show as a showcase.

Thursday October 24, 2013:
Baseball Club Game, Andy Seminick-Les Hall Field

Always a nice event. The cold fronts have started moving in so it was nice to watch a fall baseball game wearing jeans and a flannel shirt. The Florida Tech Baseball Club played the UCF Baseball Club in a very good matchup. This event required no real work on our part, just making sure we got enough people to come sign in (80%).

Friday October 25, 2013: 
Pep Rally, Panthereum

This was a bit less of an event than most were expecting. It was scheduled to be an hour long and ended up only lasting 15 minutes. It was also the kick-off event for Parents Weekend which drew quite a few families into town.

Friday Fest Feat. TAKING BACK SUNDAY in Downtown Melbourne

This event wasn’t required, but Melbourne has a great downtown area that sometimes gets turned into a big block party when a good band comes to town. They set up a stage and invite street vendors in to sell a myriad of goods in addition to the plethora of shops, bars and restaurants downtown.  I (along with the vast majority of those in the running for homecoming king/queen) ended up missing the concert in order to put the finishing touches on the homecoming floats for the parade at 9 a.m. the next day. Starting the float a week earlier afforded some of us the opportunity to go downtown and catch a little bit of the concert.

Saturday October 26, 2013:
Parade, Tailgating, Football Game & Dance

Saturday was by far the craziest of all the days. The parade went well. The route ran down Country Club Road, onto University Boulevard, onto Babcock Street and then through the tailgating sections on the south end of campus. We ended up winning first place in the float contest, which was awesome. All our hard work paid off!

With a theme of “There’s No Place Like Homecoming” (Wizard of Oz) we turned the bed of a truck into the Emerald City and strung a yellow brick road up the trailer onto the tailgate. We then turned the trailer into Munchkin Land along with a scarecrow, tin man and lion. We had munchkins dancing around the back of the float and “citizens of the Emerald City” walking in front with our chapter’s banner.

Tailgating was fun and parents mingled with alumni and active students. It made for a very lively atmosphere.  It was followed by the football game which began at 1 p.m. against Warner University. We won the game and I overheard quite a few alumni being impressed with where the university is headed.

Homecoming culminated with the dance at the top of the parking garage and the crowning of homecoming king/queen. This year’s king was from Pi Kappa Alpha and queen from Phi Sigma Sigma.  Being homecoming chair I was proud that we placed 3rd considering we weren’t paired with anyone and everything fell onto us.

It was a bit tough being in charge of making sure all activities had our full participation but we were fully prepared. Most of the difficulty came from people having work scheduled the same time as homecoming events as well as the ominous mound of homework we all inevitably have piled up this time of the year.

I saw quite a few more alumni at this homecoming than in years past. I think this was in part due to the addition of football and its related activities. There were also a number of reunions this year. A local fraternity from quite some time ago, Delta Delta Tau had its 50th anniversary/reunion (it’s no longer active on campus). Another fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha (which is still around) had their 45th anniversary as well.

Though I enjoyed my time as Homecoming Chair, I think I’ll let someone else have the experience next year. It’s a stressful job, but incredibly rewarding.

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