Alumni and friends of Illinois State were eager to participate in Homecoming on campus this year after the annual event was virtual this past spring because of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Events held October 11-17 drew an enthusiastic group eager to celebrate Homecoming’s centennial year.
The 100th anniversary began with the Student Kick-off in the Bone Student Center and the lighting of trees in Uptown Normal. Staff in Alumni Engagement scheduled activities that reflected rich traditions and captured the University’s vibrant future.
From the Half Century Club gathering to campus groups competing in the annual Redbird Rumble, a blood drive, and affinity group reunions, the week was filled with a renewal of friendships and support for ISU. The Black Colleagues Association, for example, raised $30,673 in scholarship funds.
“Our 100th Homecoming week was a tremendous success. It was wonderful to see the Redbird community come together again to celebrate one of the richest traditions at Illinois State University,” said Alumni Engagement Executive Director Kris Harding, M.S. ’94.
Highlights once again included the crowning of alumni king and queen, with Carl Kasten ’66 and Lynda Lane ’66 capturing the title. A Town and Gown 5K and 1-mile walk/run started a full day of activity on Saturday before the parade wound through campus and Uptown Normal. A crowd lining the streets cheered as the Big Red Marching Machine performed under a sunny sky.
President Terri Goss Kinzy participated in her first Homecoming, riding in the parade with her husband, Scott, in an electric truck produced by Rivian. The company has a plant based in Normal. Tailgating was equally popular prior to the football game against North Dakota State University. Approximately 13,000 fans filled Hancock Stadium.
“Alumni returned to campus from across the globe to laugh, reminisce, and reconnect with one another,” Harding said. “The Redbird spirit was strong and that is what makes this University special! Homecoming 2021 will be one that we remember for a long time. We can’t wait for next year when we ‘Celebrate Red’ October 10-16.”