Students and alumni of any university see homecoming as a normal, annual event, but it had to start somewhere. Illinois State University first celebrated Homecoming in November of 1921. That makes ISU Homecoming 2021 significant—it was the 100th anniversary.  

The 99th year of homecoming in 2020 was anything but normal. Stuck at home with a large-gathering limit, it was difficult to celebrate. Fortunately, 2021 gave Illinois State alumni an opportunity to pick up where they left off. 

The School of Communication has a long history of Homecoming tailgates. 

“Usually, we would set up a big grill and we would cook all kinds of stuff. We’ve done turkeys, we’ve done steak, sandwiches, burgers, brats, hotdogs—that whole thing,” said Dr. Steve Hunt, professor and director of the School of Communication. “But there are restrictions around food this year so that we could only serve individually packaged items.” 

This year, the tailgate featured individually wrapped gondolas, chips, and miniature Bundt cakes, as well as a variety of drinks, though the staple grilled lunch was missed. 

While food had to be handled differently than in past years, nearly everything else has been able to return to normal. 

WZND set up at the tailgate as usual and played music, and the tailgate was in the same location as in the past. 

Alumni, current students, and faculty enjoy the School of Communication’s tailgate for Homecoming 2021.

The School of Communication also welcomed alumni back to campus for the tailgate, including some notable alumni. Eric Hoss was involved with the digitizing of The Vidette. Tim Bill, who received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ISU and is the director of marketing at Heartland Community College. Arles Hendershot Love and Les Vann were honored for their many contributions to TV-10. Finally, Amy Parlette Gorczwski, who helped spearhead the transition to the digital Vidette, and Frank DiLeonardi, who worked to facilitate professional development of students during COVID, were honored but unable to return to campus. 

Alumni enjoy the School of Communications Tailgate.

“It’s 100 years of tailgating,” said Hunt. “This year we knew that we had to do this, and despite the some of the limitations that we faced, I think was a lot of fun. I heard from alumni who planned on coming back.”

Funding for the School’s tailgate was provided by professor emeritus, Dr. Bill Semlak.