UMD’s homecoming on the rise
UMD has put on homecoming for years, but some of the current activities are fairly new. The parade has only been around since 2014, and was moved to campus in 2016. New this year is the faculty and staff day that was added.
Andrew Fisher, student tradition manager for Kirby Program Board (KPB), is the student lead for the homecoming week and plans it along with Kirby, Alumni Relations and Athletics among other departments.
“One of my favorite parts of homecoming week is the togetherness of everyone,” Fisher said. “For example, Student Association and KPB hosted the corn roast together and I love seeing everyone work together to accomplish a goal.”
In recent years, KPB has hosted the food week, including Top the Tater Tuesday, Weenie Wednesday and French Toast Friday.
“In all the events there were students lined up before we even started and it was so cool to see so much excitement from the students,” Fisher said.
Fisher said that homecoming has changed in a traditional sense.
“We now have the parade on campus, have a fall concert, have food week, and have student organizations host events during the week,” Fisher said.
Director of Alumni Relations, Matthew Duffy, said that he has seen a positive change in the UMD student attendance at the parade. When Duffy started working at UMD in the spring of 2016, he spent some time talking to the UMD population about homecoming. At that point the parade had been arranged in downtown Duluth for two years. While including the Duluth community was a wish granted, there were not as many students attending.
“One of the things that I heard from people on campus was that we don’t get a lot of students to come to the parade downtown,” Duffy said. “A Thursday night in October in downtown Duluth is probably not something that is going to drag too many people down from campus.”
The primary goal of moving the parade on to campus was to include more students and find a way to make people more enthusiastic about homecoming.
“Having a parade that would bring people on campus and having the parade flow right into the football game made a lot of sense to me,” Duffy said. “There’s a lot of stuff happening on campus on homecoming day, and by folding the parade into that made the whole thing feel more festive.”
Duffy said that despite the bad weather, there was plenty of enthusiasm for the homecoming parade this year.
“It seems like when I talk to people, homecoming has come a long way,” Duffy said. “I think a lot of alumni still need traditions to become more eager to come back, but I think that we’re on that trajectory already. A lot of people are coming back.”
Fisher said that one of the aspects that he would like to change would be to engage more upperclassmen to participate in the homecoming festivities.
“I feel that over the years as a student their involvement with on-campus activities tends to die off,” Fisher said. “No matter the age you will always be a Bulldog and you can always celebrate your school spirit.”