By Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer
This weekend, students, alumni and families will gather to share in one of Baylor’s most cherished and long-standing traditions — homecoming weekend.
Homecoming holds special meaning for all members of the Baylor community, but it is a particularly special moment for Baylor enthusiasts to spread their love of the university and its traditions.
Two individuals in particular have a unique appreciation for homecoming as huge fans of the school, and look to truly delve into all that the weekend has to offer. Tom Barnard, assistant director for student outreach and engagement, loves capturing the Baylor campus and community through his Instagram account @tomatbaylor. Barnard has over 3,000 followers and features shots of Baylor events and candid moments. Jordy Dickey serves as assistant director of the student union and leads student-group Union Board, which plans events and activities in the Bill Daniels Student Center. Both care deeply for Baylor and its mission and share their best tips to get the most out of this weekend’s festivities.
Tip #1 — Use this time to reflect on the Homecomings of years past
Baylor is recognized as hosting the nation’s oldest homecoming celebrations, beginning in 1909 and developing rich traditions and history for over 100 years. Barnard said he appreciates the significance of Thursday’s Freshman Mass Meeting event, where freshmen learn about and honor the Immortal Ten — 10 Baylor students who died in a bus accident in 1927.
“Mass Meeting at Baylor is one aspect of homecoming that is radically unique among universities,” Barnard said. “Baylor does this amazing job of bringing together alumni, current students and faculty for the weekend, but that’s true among homecoming celebrations across the nation. But to introduce the class of 2022 to the students of the 1927 bus crash and memorialize the legacies of those students we lost — that’s amazing.”
Dickey emphasizes that homecoming is an event all members of the Baylor community can participate in and relate to and is a chance to support the many alumni who return to campus for the football game and other events.
“Generations of Baylor Bears have joined together to celebrate the spirit of Baylor since back in 1909,” Dickey said. “What really makes Baylor homecoming truly unique is that it’s more than just fanfare — it’s a real illustration that the ‘Baylor Line will march forever down the years as long as stars shall shine.’ When you step onto campus, you can feel the true embrace of ‘welcome home, Bears.’”
Barnard encourages students to recognize not only the exciting aspects of Homecoming, but to also take notice of its historical value.
“It reminds students of the part they’re currently playing in history and is a big part of the Baylor student experience,” Barnard said.
Tip #2 — Attend events that bring the community together
Homecoming week includes a variety of exciting activities from campus groups but also some must-see events that unite past and present Bears. Important events to attend include:
· Freshman Mass Meeting (Nov. 1)- Baylor freshmen learn about the history of the Immortal Ten in the Ferrell Center and afterwards assist in building the Extravaganza bonfire.
· Pigskin Revue (Nov. 1 to 3)- The top eight acts of this year’s All-University Sing perform at Waco Hall. Thursday also includes the presentation of the Homecoming Court and Homecoming Queen. Tickets are needed in advance.
· Friday Night Flashback (Nov. 2)- The SUB will feature displays and photos of Baylor events and traditions through the years, including All University-Sing, Diadeloso and the Baylor Line.
· Extravaganza and Bonfire (Nov. 2)- The “eternal flame” is lit in a structure to commemorate the Immortal Ten from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fountain Mall. A pep rally and activities proceed the lighting of a large bonfire.
· Downtown Parade (Nov. 3)- A large parade begins at 7 a.m. in downtown Waco and crosses through 5th Street on campus around 7:30 a.m. The parade includes floats, balloons, the band and spirit squads and appearances of a variety of on-campus groups.
· Football Game (Nov. 3)- Baylor is playing Oklahoma State in the homecoming football game at 11 a.m. at McLane Stadium.
Barnard views these large, community-building activities as necessary events he hopes all Bears look to participate in.
“For freshmen, Mass Meeting is an absolute must,” Barnard said. “The real must-sees are the Extravaganza Friday night, the parade Saturday morning and the game following soon after. If you look at the schedule, there’s a ton of small events all over campus as well, but those three are clearly the keynote moments of the weekend, in my opinion.”
Dickey also sees large events like this as important for both current Baylor students and visiting alumni and families.
“For freshmen and families, I highly recommend events like Friday Night Flashback, Extravaganza, Pigskin Revue, the bonfire, the parade and, of course, the football game,” Dickey said.
Tip #3 — Be on the lookout for smaller events
Although the parade and bonfire are popular, must-see events, groups around campus are hosting events throughout the week as well. Some highlights include:
· Handshake Homecoming (Oct. 31 to Nov. 1)- Career and Professional Development Ambassadors will celebrate the Homecoming season by handing out prizes and helping students learn more about Handshake, a job search app for students, and other campus resources.
· Singspiration (Nov. 2)- Baylor community members join together in worship at Seventh and James Baptist Church with Baylor Symphony Orchestra and Choir.
· Moody Library and Starbucks Homecoming Welcome (Nov. 3)- Moody will open at 6 a.m. on Saturday serving coffee at Starbucks, where students and alumni can celebrate Moody’s 50th anniversary before the morning parade.
· There are also many campus group receptions and brunches. A full list of homecoming events is available online at Baylor Homecoming’s “Full Schedule” page.
Tip #4 — Take time to show gratitude for students and staff who put on Homecoming events
Homecoming is made possible by the participation of a variety of campus groups and staff members. Make sure to show appreciation for those involved in the festivities.
“Many days I’ve had the privilege of working with the student leaders of Chamber, Student Foundation, Greek Life and other student orgs,” Barnard said. “I get to watch all the incredible hard work that they put into these events and the leadership they demonstrate. Baylor Homecoming wouldn’t be what it is without these student leaders and their amazing dedication.”
Dickey acknowledged how honored she is to work alongside such dedicated students.
“I work with the department of Student Activities, and we’re really honored to come alongside Baylor Chamber of Commerce in all of their planning efforts to make Baylor homecoming a truly one-of-a-kind event,” Dickey said.