Baylor to welcome alumni for homecoming despite impending storms

A torchbearer holds the torch before igniting the bonfire on Friday evening. Photo Credit: Lariat File Art

By Helena Hunt, Staff Writer

Since its inception in 1909, Baylor Homecoming has welcomed alumni and guests to a weekend of bonfires, parades, reunions, and football. This year, rain will prevent several of these festivities from continuing as planned.

Saturday morning’s parade has been canceled, although floats will be put on display at a later date. Tonight’s Extravaganza and Pep Rally have been moved to the Waco Convention Center on Washington Avenue, and the bonfire and fireworks show have been canceled.

The football game against Iowa State University at 11 a.m. Saturday will continue as planned.

“We have a number of contingencies in place that we’re working through with the program planners. We really start having substantive conversations about four days out,” said Matt Burchett, director of Student Activities. “We pull together all the impacted areas and departments. We talk about what the weather looks like today. We obviously have some experts on campus that are able to help us talk through what’s reality and what’s not, as far as weather goes.”

Despite these changes, Baylor hopes to preserve the spirit of homecoming for its current and former students.

“Our goal is to recreate what the original foundation of Homecoming was to accomplish. The old line was ‘Renew former associations and catch that Baylor spirit again’, in the original invitation. Really, when you talk about all the events that we host, the thing that really strikes me is the cluster of friends at the bonfire, or the people introducing a new child or a new spouse, or seeing an old friend for the first time in a long time,” Burchett said.

Burchett said the wide range of homecoming events is meant to give all visitors a chance to revisit their own niche at the university. Pigskin, Singspiration, the football game, and the diverse array of other events offer something for guests of all ages and backgrounds.

For every student, both past and present, there are the teas and receptions hosted by the English department, the Honors College, the Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and many others. There is a home in every corner at Baylor for those who search for their niche this homecoming.

In addition to the traditions that have long made Baylor’s Homecoming so distinct, there are several additions to the Homecoming festivities this year. On Friday afternoon, the Rosenbalm Fountain on Fifth Street will at last be dedicated.

Another new campus addition is a sculpture by local artist Bryant Stanton to house the Eternal Flame.

“We will be introducing a new Eternal Flame. It’s a sculpture that’s been done by local artisan and Baylor grad Bryant Stanton. He has crafted, which will be unveiled at Mass Meeting, a 9-foot-wide by 13-foot-long sculpture that will house the eternal flame during Homecoming,” Burchett said.

The idea of a new Eternal Flame, even if it is a bit of a paradox, represents what makes Homecoming so special to so many. It is always new, with new people and new traditions coming each year. But it keeps going, the same as it has been in the past, far into the future.

“I remember coming to homecoming when I was little, and it was always one of my favorite weekends,” said Dallas senior McKinley Freeman. “It’s a really great way to come together.”

Students and visitors can find these contingency plans on Baylor’s Facebook and Twitter pages.