The Seven Days of Homecoming: An Early Carol for UofA’s Most Exciting Holiday

1 Nov

Homecoming has been a University of Arizona tradition since 1914. Every year, Wildcats of all generations come together in celebration of the best school in the country. After all, we were appropriately recognized as one of the top colleges by the Princeton Review. We have highly ranked research programs, motivated undergraduate and graduate students, and a strong alumni base of all ages. One of our oldest alumni is 102-year-old Margaret Trachta.

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The whole week is filled with spirit boosting events for students including the lighting of “A” Mountain (Sentinel Peak), Club Olympics, and Bear Down Friday.

The weekend is jam-packed with events for students and the 50,000 alumni returning “home” from across the United States.

There’s so much going on for homecoming it may be hard to remember every event. Sing this little tune so you won’t miss out. Yes, I know caroling may be a little premature, but hey, the UofA Homecoming is a spectacular holiday.

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On the first day of homecoming UofA gave to me:

            A watch party for the lighting of “A” Mountain

The Facts: The “A” was built in 1916 out of rocks, hauled up the mountain by horses. The tradition of lighting the mountain was used to kick off homecoming week. On Sunday, November 3, this tradition will be continued as we kick off the UofA’s 99th homecoming. ASUA is holding a “watch party” for all students to have the opportunity to experience this breath taking event. Festivities will start at 4pm on the top of Main Gate garage. There will be free food and drinks and students will be in the company of UofA’s very own Wilbur and Wilma. 

The Scoop: My freshman year, I walked to the top of the student union to watch the lighting of “A” Mountain with my new friends. The whole experience was breathtaking because I could participate in this longstanding UofA tradition with the people I love. We all waited for the sun to set, and as the lights went out over Tucson, a glimmer started to shine on the mountain. Within a few minutes the “A” was lit up in flames in a domino effect for the whole of Tucson to admire. You know when you’re sitting around a fire and you get caught mesmerized watching the flames dance? That same moving feeling is what I experienced watching the “A” glimmer high on the mountain. It gave me a whole new love and appreciation for the UofA. I’ve enjoyed watching it every year since, and last year I was able to see it from the balcony of my apartment. This year, I get to perform the lighting with my fellow members of the Bobcats Senior Honorary. As I sprint across the rocks lighting each set of flares I will be thinking about all the freshmen we will be introducing to the UofA’s rich history and traditions.

On the second day of homecoming  UofA gave to me:

            An introduction of the Homecoming Court

                        and a watch party for the lighting of “A” Mountain

The Facts: The homecoming court consists of five men and five women nominated by various groups at UofA. Each of them went through a long selection process and competed against many qualified candidates. These ten were chosen based off of their all around embodiment of the University of Arizona. The student body now has the opportunity throughout the week to vote for their number one choice for king and queen. The winners will be announced at Friday’s pep rally.

The Scoop: The online bios of the queens and kings are fun to read because it gives you an idea of what people are involved with on and off campus. It’s also a great way to see what various groups on campus do. I’m always impressed to see how many different activities they get involved with and how many hours are put in. It’s inspiring to see their success and the quality people that UofA produces. Typically there are a variety of queens and kings involved with ASUA, Arizona Athletics, Greek Life, and many other established groups on campus.

homecoming court

On the third day of homecoming UofA gave to me:

            A relay race on the UofA Mall

                        An introduction of the Homecoming Court

                        and a watch party for the lighting of “A” Mountain

The Facts: The Homecoming Club Olympics occur Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of homecoming week. The activities are monitored and judged by ASUA staff and the Bobcats. The top three teams will win cash rewards of $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place, and $250 for third place! The Relay race will run from 12:00-1:00 pm. There will also be an Eegees truck so you can refuel after your race.

The Scoop: Participating in the Olympic games is a great way to let out your competitive side and make some new friends along the way. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday you can go to these events and participate with your club. If you’re not in a club, it’s still a blast to watch your fellow students, and even some professors, get their game face on.

On the fourth day of homecoming UofA gave to me:

            A  professor dunk tank, a pie eating contest, a bungee run, and an obstacle course

                        A relay race on the UofA Mall

                        An introduction of the Homecoming Court

                        and a watch party for the lighting of “A” Mountain

The Facts: This year the dunk tank, pie eating contest, and bungee run will go from 12:00-1:00 pm. The inflatable obstacle course will be from 5:00-6:00 pm. If you are hoping to be a part of the Eller College of Management you should come out to see some of your future  professors get dunked repeatedly.

The Scoop: I have been busy throughout homecoming week in the past with tests papers and other activities. Unfortunately this kept me from participate in all of the activities throughout the week. If you’re in that same position, try to at least walk through the mall when they’re going on because just observing is so much fun. It still counts as participating. Trust me if you think you’ll be stressed out next week you should really make an effort to stop by the Olympics on the mall. You’ll get some good laughs in and it will be a good stress reliever.

On the fifth day of homecoming  UofA gave to me:

            Tug of War on the UofA Mall

                        A professor dunk tank, a pie eating contest, a bungee run, and an obstacle course  

                        A relay race on the UofA Mall

                        An introduction of the Homecoming Court

                        and a watch party for the lighting of “A” Mountain

The Facts: Truckloads of dirt are delivered to the mall and turned into mud for the tug-of-war competition. Students can expect to get extremely dirty and should avoid wearing any clothes they care about.

The Scoop: My favorite event to watch is the tug-of-war. Everyone slips around in the mud and gets dirt all over their clothes but they don’t care because they’re so determined to win the battle. I had friends last year who participated in this event who a day later were still finding mud stuck to their arms, legs and even in their hair. Now that‘s what I call some dirty competition.

tugofwar

On the sixth day of homecoming UofA gave to me:

            Bear Down Friday and a Pep Rally on University

                        Tug of War on the UofA Mall

                        A professor dunk tank, a pie eating contest, a bungee run, and an obstacle course

                        A relay race on the UofA Mall

                        An introduction of the Homecoming Court

                        and a watch party for the lighting of “A” Mountain

The Facts: The Queen and King have been announced at the pep rally since 1988. Interestingly, the first Queen was crowned all the way back in 1947. A king wasn’t selected until 1983. The pep rally will start this year at 5:00 pm and only lasts about an hour. For a more detailed schedule of the event visit this link.

The Scoop: At the end of the week there’s a Pep Rally on Bear Down Friday. Typically everyone gathers around the stage at Old Main and gets to participate in a bonfire. This year, because of construction, there unfortunately will not be a bonfire but there will still be a presentation at the stage on the mall. The football team, cheerleaders, band, and thousands of Wildcats gather round for a speech from Coach Rich Rodriguez and his captains. Then, with a dramatic build up by the band, the Homecoming Queen and King are announced. These events always make me so proud to be a Wildcat and get me pumped for the Saturday football game.

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The first picture is of my friend Ashley and I at last year’s pep rally. The second picture is of my parents, two of the UofA alumni in my family.

On the seventh day of homecoming UofA gave to me:

            A football tailgate, tents on the mall, 50,000 alumni returning to UofA, a parade, and (fingers crossed) a winning football game against the UCLA Bruins

                        Bear Down Friday and a Pep Rally on University

                        Tug of War on the UofA Mall

                        A professor dunk tank, a pie eating contest, a bungee run, and an obstacle course  

                        A relay race on the UofA Mall

                        An introduction of the Homecoming Court

                        and a watch party for the lighting of “A” Mountain

The Facts: Students have been hand-building floats for the homecoming parade since 1929. Clubs, Greek houses, and even engineering teams put hours into designing the floats. There are also spectacular red and blue cars that were hand picked at the Tucson car show that escort the Homecoming Court and the Homecoming Grand Marshall. In the past the Grand Marshall has been alumni letter winners or coaches, big contributors to the UofA, or even significant role models in the community. This year the parade will start at 4:00 pm and proceed down the UA Mall. In addition the band marches through and then heads to the stadium to prepare for the game. This year we will be playing the UCLA Bruins at 8:00 pm.

The Scoop: On game day the mall is set up with hundreds of tents and tailgates from Old Main to Campbell Avenue. The sight of thousands of Wildcats roaming around campus with faces painted, wearing their colors, and flaunting the block A always strengthens my pride for the UofA. The spirit is buzzing through the air and everyone is acknowledging each other with an enthusiastic “Bear Down!” The prevalence of Bear Down during homecoming week especially is a symbol of long standing UofA traditions, lifelong dedication to Arizona, and the representation of the drive and success of the Wildcat community. “Pop” McKale went and visited John “Button” Salmon when he was in critical condition after a car accident and was given a message for the football team, “tell them… tell them to bear down.” These words were used to inspire the athletes back in 1926 and will still be used on Saturday, November 9th to encourage the football team to work hard and defeat UCLA. Bear Down is my favorite piece of UofA history because it motivates and connects the entire Arizona community. On game day I’m sure I say Bear Down close to one hundred times in conversation with alumni and when I’m nervously watching the game.

IMG_1847parade

tailgateSAM_1716

My favorite memory from homecoming was my sophomore year when I got to see my dad walk on the field. Every year many people are recognized for their contributions to the UofA during the football game. My dad was a letter winner for the UofA football team and that year his class was honored during the halftime show. As I watched him walk onto the field with his old roommates, I could see how happy he was to be back on his field with his buddies. At that moment I was so proud to be continuing his legacy and I realized I will always be a Wildcat. The University of Arizona provides us with so many great opportunities and resources that can help us grow and shape us into the people we are when we graduate. It’s a part of us, and we’re wildcats for life. Homecoming is when alumni come back home.

–Hannah McNeal

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