Northern Illinois University is lighting up Holmes Student Center red and rolling out the red and black carpet for the 114th Homecoming celebration, Huskie Stars, Sept. 27 through Oct. 3.
“We are very excited to be returning to in-person activities for homecoming this year,” said Executive Director of Northern Illinois University Alumni Association (NIUAA), Reggie Bustinza. “This celebration is a result of the work of a campus-wide committee who focused on creating events that are inclusive and a mixture of old and new traditions.”
A new tradition includes a Homecoming Brunch hosted by the NIU Foundation and NIU Alumni Association that will be held outdoors in front of Altgeld Hall. And the cherished traditions, like tailgating in The Yard and cheering on the football team at Huskie Stadium, are among things alumni, students, faculty, staff and community members are looking forward to.
“I’m looking forward to the homecoming game,” said freshman KaLilah Chears. “It’s been a while since I attended football games, so it’ll be very exciting to see the team in action.”
Chears, a member of the university’s Color Guard, said the team has the opportunity to perform during halftime of Saturday’s game versus Eastern Michigan.
“I haven’t performed on the field for over a year due to COVID, so being with the marching band for a huge event like this is thrilling,” Chears said.
Senior Arieonnia Brown said she’s looking forward to attending the Black Alumni events that take place throughout the week.
“The homecoming party is always a good time with friends and it’s a party that my out-of-town family can come out to enjoy with me,” Brown said.
There are a number of events being offered campus-wide, like A Night at Holmes on Oct. 1 for an evening of fun, music, games and prizes.
“There are many homecoming events, so surely everyone can find something that they’re interested in attending,” Chears said. “This gives students an opportunity to discover organizations and clubs that’ll make their college experience more enjoyable.”
Brown shared the sentiment.
“I hope (all Huskies) take the time to meet great people,” Brown said. “We all deserve to enjoy our lives to the fullest, especially after quarantining for a whole year.”
There are also virtual opportunities to connect during the week, like NIU’s LGBTQ+ Alumni and Friends Homecoming Virtual Social on Sept. 28 via Zoom.
“We are excited to host our second annual NIU LGBTQ+ Alumni and Friends Homecoming Virtual Social,” said Molly Holmes, director of NIU’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. “We had such a great turnout last year, particularly with participants being able to log on from across the country representing all time zones.”
Holmes said she anticipates an even larger presence this year and looks forward to being part of growing future Huskie homecoming events.
“We’re thankful that this is one of the many ways that NIU demonstrates its value of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Holmes said. “LGBTQ+ alumni and friends are a valued part of the NIU family at their time at NIU and beyond.”
Check out the complete event lineup at NIU Homecoming – Huskie Stars.