As one of the most highly anticipated weeks of the year for the University of Miami community, Homecoming was full of many events for students, faculty and alumni to get involved in.
While Homecoming only lasts a week, the Homecoming Executive Committee (HEC) began organizing the events last year.
“The executive team, consisting of myself, my vice chairs and our advisor has been working since last November when we were all selected to be the next executive team,” said Meera Patel, a senior majoring in microbiology and immunology and public health and the chair of HEC.
Each fall semester, the HEC plans and hosts Homecoming to get the UM community involved on campus through its committees: Opening Ceremonies and Spirit Day, Royalty Competition, Spirit Tree and Sponsorships, Hurricanes Help the Hometown, Organized Cheer (O-Cheer), Alma Mater, Participation and Outreach and Board Competition, Hurricane Howl and Marketing and Social Media Competition.
“Our committee was selected in March of 2022 and we’ve been working ever since, including in small meetings over the summer as individual committees,” Patel said.
Homecoming week kicked off with the Opening Ceremony and ‘Canes Spirit Day on Oct. 31.
“The really cool part about Opening is that you don’t have to be on a team to participate and I think sometimes people get caught up in like, ‘Oh, I’m not a participating team’, but something like Opening is for every single student, faculty and staff,” said Katarina Jenkins, a senior majoring in public relations and a vice chair of HEC.
The following day, the Homecoming pageant and Spirit Tree Competition took place. The Homecoming pageant was held with new procedures this year. Instead of naming a king, queen, prince and princess, there were four “winners”. The name of the pageant was also changed starting this year.
“In previous years, it was named the King and Queen Pageant, but we’ve changed it to the Royalty Pageant this year. The main goal was to be more inclusive of all students on campus,” said Lindsey Faucher, a junior majoring in international studies and psychology and a vice chair of HEC.
The Spirit Tree Competition was when student organizations created ornaments to decorate UM’s Spirit Tree, located between the Ashe Administration Building and the Dooly Memorial Building.
“Recently, in partnership with the Student Government’s ECO Agency, we were able to add a land acknowledgment flag to the tree, which is I believe one of the first kinds on our campus. It acknowledges the people that first inhabited the land,” Patel said.
On Wednesday, the O-Cheer competition took place. Freshman psychology major Jennifer Rivas and sophomore biology major Matthew Foley participated in this competition and Foley appreciated how much the event promoted UM spirit despite it being a competition.
“After we finished competing and the judges were making their decisions, they played songs and people from all teams got up and danced together,” Foley said
Hurricanes Help the Hometown, also on Nov. 2, was an event dedicated to serving communities outside of UM. As opposed to previous years when HEC partners with one organization, any student or service organization interested was welcome to participate this year. Booths were set up around Lakeside Patio and each booth had a different service activity to participate in.
On Nov. 3, the Alma Mater Competition took place.
“Everyone’s singing the alma mater, why they love the University, why it’s great to be a ‘Cane. It’s an emotional rollercoaster for everyone together,” said Esther Alexandre, a senior majoring in computer engineering and a vice chair of HEC.
Foley and Rivas also participated in the Alma Mater Competition and Rivas found her experiences with both competitions very rewarding.
“I believe that competing in these competitions was one of the best parts of Homecoming because I got to represent an organization that I am extremely passionate about and I got to have fun while doing so,” Rivas said.
Later in the day, Hurricane Productions hosted the first Homecoming concert since 2019 in the Watsco Center featuring singer Flo Rida.
“It’s an addition back to Homecoming week that I think everyone has been waiting for,” Jenkins said.
The last event of the week, the Hurricane Howl, happened on the evening of Nov. 4, the night before the Homecoming football game. This event included a block party, food trucks, the Homecoming award ceremony, a pep rally, fireworks and the boat burning ceremony.
“It is tradition for a small boat to be painted the color of our Homecoming opponent. The tradition states that if the mast of the boat hits the water before the boat sinks, the ‘Canes will win the Homecoming football game. The boat burning has been a tradition since 1956,” Patel said.
For Rivas, her favorite Homecoming event was the Hurricane Howl. She enjoyed hearing the Frost Band of the Hour play and taking part in the well-known UM Homecoming traditions.
“For years, I had heard that attending this event would change my life and now I can proudly say that it did,” Rivas said.
Foley expressed how much Homecoming helped get him more active at UM.
“As a transfer and commuter, it’s hard to feel involved in the school, but Homecoming allowed me to do things like O-Cheer and Alma Mater and helped me feel like I belong through events like the boat burning,” Foley said.
The members of the HEC executive team felt inspired to join HEC after they experienced their first homecoming as freshmen.
“The feeling of Homecoming is in our hands and we get to create that for other students, so making them feel the way Homecoming felt for us is something we all strive to do and I feel like it’s a common goal of everyone who joins HEC,” Jenkins said.
The HEC hopes the entire UM community felt welcomed at the Homecoming events.
“That’s the general goal of Homecoming: to invite all students, no matter what your background is, no matter who you are, to come and participate in our Homecoming events,” Faucher said.