The University's homecoming parade will still go on this year on Oct. 3 starting at 3 p.m. but will only allow walk-in participants for COVID-19 precautions.

Everyone recognizes it — the excitement and pride that comes with Homecoming week. The big football game, the loud crowds, the week-long activities, parades and royalty are all what would be part of this long-lasting tradition.

But for Bearcats and other student bodies across the nation, Homecoming will look a little different this year. 

With the MIAA’s decision to cancel fall sports, there will not be any football for this Homecoming. Football is generally the focus of Homecoming Week and what the people look forward to. However, even without a game, the event goes on, still with plenty of activities.

Homecoming Week will take place Oct. 4-10. The theme will be “Bearcats in Outer Space.”

The Northwest Office of Student Involvement, has posted on the Northwest Homecoming page the activities that will be taking place during Homecoming Week. Activities include a blood drive, the annual canned art contest, photo contest, Walkout Day, Bell of ’48 Ringing, the International Flag-Raising Ceremony and, of course, the parade.

With the unusual circumstances that this year has given, it might have been a question whether or not the Homecoming events would even happen. However, according to senior Faith Thompson, executive chair of public relations and sponsorship, for Northwest, there was never a doubt.

“It never crossed our minds to not have Homecoming events,” Thompson said. “We just knew that we would have to modify the events to match the times we are in and the mitigation rules for the University.”

Homecoming and Student Senate are coming together to put on a blood drive that will be happening at 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 6-8 in the Tower View Room on the third floor of the J.W. Jones Student Union.

The annual photo contest allows campus departments and offices to show their Bearcat pride, by taking a photo with the idea of “not only capturing the Homecoming theme, but displaying their Homecoming spirit.”

Participants would need to submit a photo by 5 p.m. Oct. 7, and the winners will be announced at 5 p.m. Oct 9.

The canned art contest gives students a chance to show off their creativity. Like the photo contest, this event allows students to show their Bearcat pride and Homecoming spirit by building structures on the second floor of the Union, remaining on display throughout the week of Homecoming.

Homecoming royalty is also a long-lasting tradition. Every year, five girls are nominated for queen, and five boys are nominated for king. 

As displayed on the Northwest’s Homecoming royalty page, the king candidates for this year are Blake Broderson, senior; Connor Thompson, sophomore; James Palmer, senior; Kirayle Jones, senior; and Nathan White, senior. 

The queen candidates for this year Carmen Miller, senior; Emily Meneely, senior; Grace McCarty, senior; Liz Johnson, senior; and Debrielle Patee-Merrill, senior. 

Walkout Day is a tradition of Northwest’s that dates back to 1915. During this time, more activities will ensue.

There will be the Bell of ’48 Ringing, which will commence Walkout Day and begin the Homecoming festivities. 

The Student Activities Council planned activities for the day itself and the week building up to it. Brady Netzel, Northwest traditions director for the Student Activities Council, said there will be a scavenger hunt during the week. 

The scavenger hunt will include plastic pumpkins in the area around the Union. The pumpkins will have instructions for students to follow, then go to the second floor of the Union and receive a prize. Each day the Student Activities Council will give out merchandise. 

There are limited amounts of prizes, however, and Netzel said the best way to know how much is left is to follow their social media accounts.

For the day itself, Netzel said the Student Activities Council is focused on giveaways. 

“We will have limited edition Walk Out Day T-shirts to give out, as well as “BEARCATS”-branded lanyards and limited edition Walk Out Day buttons,” Netzel said. 

There are two locations where students can receive these items. The first location is outside of The Station in between the high-rise residence halls. The second location is outside near the Bell Tower in between the Union and the Hudson-Perrin Residence Halls. Netzel also said these items will be free.

Netzel said the focus of Walkout Day turned from student events to giveaways. 

“We, as SAC, are still trying to figure out what is the most safest and viable option when it comes to student events, and our main priority is the safety and well-being of the students,” Netzel said. “Giving out really cool items is the perfect alternative to take place in the absence of student events.”

Starting at 12:45 p.m. Oct. 9, Northwest students will raise their respective nation’s flag as a part of the flag-raising ceremony, at the Joyce and Harvey White International Plaza. Northwest has 290 international students enrolled who represent 39 different countries.

At 3 p.m. on Oct. 9, the parade will officially begin. Students who wish to not attend will be able to watch it online, as it will be streamed live. The parade will proceed through the heart of Northwest campus, starting at the corner of College Avenue and College Park Drive and proceeding north to Centennial Drive. It will continue south on University Drive and end at the Mabel Cook Recruitment and Visitors Center. 

Entries for the parade are being limited to only student organizations and on-campus departments. Thompson said there will be over 20 campus organizations represented in the parade.

Aidan Kocsis, executive chair for parade, said all supremacy entries, which include floats and dancing clowns, have been canceled in an effort to help prevent further spread of COVID-19 in the University community and help ensure Northwest maintains an active learning environment. 

Walk-in entries are permitted but are only open for student organizations and on-campus departments. The deadline to register for the parade is at 5 p.m. Sept. 30. 

With Walkout Day, the International Flag-Raising Ceremony, Bell of ’48 Ringing, Homecoming parade and showcase being normally crowded events, there have been concerns on how Homecoming would be able to meet COVID-19 precautions. 

“The only changes to those events is that we will be following all mitigation rules that the University has put into place,” Thompson said. 

Thompson also said the process of planning these events was easy, since they are just going to follow the same rules as the University. 

After the parade, students can meet at the Bell Tower for performances by the Bearcat Marching Band and the Bearcat Steppers. At this time, awards and Homecoming royalty will be announced, which will conclude the Homecoming week activities.

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