It’s that unique time of year again, where organizations come together to paint their banners and students gather to celebrate their pride in being a Rocket. But, what people don’t really see is the planning that takes place behind the scenes.
Shelby Sipe, a third-year paralegal studies major, is the director of finance and sponsorship chair of this year’s Homecoming Committee and says they have been working on homecoming since last semester.
“You think homecoming is just this parade, but there’s so much work that goes in it,” Sipe said. “We started last semester and worked all through this summer and then when we came back in the fall it was constant meetings.”
The Homecoming Committee is made up of 14 students who orchestrated this year’s homecoming, including a week full of events celebrating UT’s long-standing tradition. Although stressful, the planning is worthwhile, with all UT students uniting to celebrate their colors for one day each year.
“It’s a very tedious process, but it’s been a lot of fun,” second-year education major Lily Kilpatrick said. “I’ve enjoyed every second of it.”
Kilpatrick, the event planner for this year’s homecoming, had her very own subcommittee of chair members for different categories including events, logistics, decorations and multicultural. Her very first step as part of her role included deciding on a theme.
Unlike past years, Kilpatrick said she wanted to try something different. For the first time, UT students were given the great opportunity and responsibility of deciding this year’s homecoming theme. RockeTHON participants, with the help of Rocky and Rocksy, chose the theme “Aloha Rockets.”
As soon as the theme was chosen, the team began brainstorming activities they could hold for the week leading up to homecoming. They held the first event of the week, a Continental Breakfast, on Monday, and ended the day with Poolside Paradise, a movie night in the UT Recreational Center pool, Kilpatrick said. Continuing the tradition, on Tuesday local food trucks offered a variety of Hawaiian food.
The rest of this week’s events include Flags for Veterans on Wednesday, outside Centennial Mall from 11-3 p.m. to fundraise 1Matters, an organization that helps homeless veterans in Toledo. The event will be followed by a Homecoming Royalty Pageant in the SU Ingman Room from 7-9 p.m. A Rocket Luau will take place Thursday, 12-2 p.m. outside Centennial Mall and “spreading more than just peanut butter” for Bridge at I-House from 3:30-4:30 p.m.
To make these events a success, Kilpatrick said she worked closely with the marketing, finance and operations team. From coordinating times that were convenient for the entire team to getting plans approved, the process was rather long and stressful.
“We fought really hard to bring food trucks to campus,” Kilpatrick said. “It’s the biggest tradition on campus, so I definitely don’t want to disappoint.”
Sipe also described the process as stressful, as she was responsible for working with a budget of about $10,400. Her role included buying items for different events and coordinating the budget to fit the committee’s needs.
From beginning the planning in March and running through with ideas until the end of May, the rest of the process involved figuring out logistics leading to a two-month long project, Kilpatrick said. To ensure the whole team was on the same page, the committee met once a week on Thursday nights to develop ideas.
“Communication was key in planning everything,” Kilpatrick said.
She added that, while getting approval from the administration, working within the university’s policies and making sure everyone was on board with planning was the hardest part for her. But she enjoyed working with all the people along the way.
“It’s a lot more work than I thought when I first joined, but I’ve loved it,” Sipe said. “I’ve definitely learned a lot from it.”
She added that speaking with professionals and getting sponsorships allowed her to grow professionally.
“We used to be the best organization on campus and that’s what homecoming should be about,” Kilpatrick said. “I really want students to try to come out, have a great time and enjoy themselves and be there.”
The homecoming parade will begin on Campus Road on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 8 a.m.