It’s homecoming week at the University of Florida!
Homecoming serves as a week to celebrate the return of alumni to campus. Leading up to an exciting football game, students at UF find numerous ways to celebrate all week long with the Homecoming Leadership Pageant, Soulfest, the Homecoming Parade, the Suntrust Gator Gallop, Gator Growl, and the Homecoming Tailgate.
- Florida Blue Key, a student honor and service society, hosts the annual Homecoming Leadership Pageant. Students who participate are judged based on campus and community involvement, a formal interview, service to the university, poise and presentation. After several rounds, the homecoming king and queen are announced at Gator Growl.
- Soulfest is a free multi-cultural celebration featuring cultural food, talent, and artistic expression from the UF community and the city of Gainesville. Students are able to perform and showcase their diverse backgrounds to attendees through various outlets. This year, Lorena Reis, a Public Health and Portuguese double major, performed with her dance group, Danza. She believes Soulfest is important because “it integrates UF culture and diversity” and she is thankful to have had the opportunity to represent a part of UF through dance.
- If students miss out on those two exciting events, there’s still plenty to do throughout homecoming week. In the Plaza of the Americas, the UF Homecoming Festival takes places featuring family-friendly carnival games and activities like bounce houses, live music, vendors and student organizations. After the festival, the annual Homecoming Parade begins. The parade serves a great way to celebrate The Gator Nation. Floats made by organizations at UF and the community drive down University Avenue under the watchful eyes of Gator fans from surrounding areas.
- If you’re interested in a more active way to participate the Suntrust Gator Gallop is a 2.5-mile fun-run following part of the homecoming parade.
- Gator Growl serves as the peak of UF’s homecoming celebrations. Originating in 1924, it has now earned the title as the largest student-run pep rally in the nation. The UF Cheerleaders, Dazzlers, Gator athletics, and Pride of the Sunshine State Marching Band unite with several musical performances from famous artists to energize students in preparation for the homecoming football game.
- On homecoming game day, the Homecoming Gator Nation Tailgate takes place at Emerson Alumni Hall. Students, alumni, and guests will join with Albert and Alberta, UF mascots, for face-painting, tailgate games, live entertainment, food for purchase and other family-friendly activities before the big kick-off. During the homecoming game, a special half-time show complete with a presentation of the new homecoming court is the tradition.
Hundreds of students work hard to prepare for homecoming week events. Third-year marketing major and co-director for the Gator Gallop, Brock Brames, describes his decision to be a part of planning UF Homecoming: “I saw that homecoming was a good opportunity to get involved with a fun event and give back to the Gator community.” Brock sees homecoming as a way for students and alumni to “connect with the Gainesville community and to fully understand what it’s like to be a part of the Gator Nation.”