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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW Homecoming week to be filled with events, activities, music

Week brims with activities designed to involve students, faculty, alumni
Abby Cima

The University of Wisconsin will host its annual Homecoming tradition the week of Oct. 2-7, according to the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s website. This year’s Homecoming also celebrates 175 years of the university.

The over 100-year-old Homecoming tradition was created to celebrate Badger pride and spirit and to bring alumni back to campus, according to Managing Director of Engagement Programs at the Wisconsin Alumni Association and Co-Chair for Planning of Homecoming Activities McKenzie Zdrale. 

For years prior to the annual event, the WAA hosted class reunions for alum each year. But in 1911, they planned a large meeting during football season. What began as a tradition called “smokes and cider,” where current students invited alumni back to campus for the season, quickly became Homecoming, according to the Wisconsin Alumni Association website.


Following the first official Homecoming during football season, event planning and improvements were made each year by a permanent planning committee, according to the WAA website. 

While events throughout the years have begun and ended, the purpose of Homecoming was and has always been to celebrate the university, students, alumni and the overall Badger community, according to the WAA website. 

Over the years, this tradition developed into the annual event that now occurs by small additions and changes to traditions over the years, with this year being the 112 year mark since the inaugural event in 1911, according to the WAA website. 

The events for the week of Homecoming are now hosted by the WAA and the Homecoming Committee, who partners with organizations across campus — such as the UW Marching Band, the Wisconsin Foundation and the Multicultural Greek and National Pan-Hellenic Councils, according to the WAA website.

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The WAA is committed to making this year as special and magical as possible because of the 175 year anniversary of UW, according to Zdrale. 

The Wisconsin Union has overseen the Homecoming Committee since 2021, according to Communications Coordinator for the Wisconsin Union Madeline Carr. This has separated events during Homecoming into two categories — those hosted by WAA and those hosted by Homecoming Committee.

Both WAA and Homecoming Committee have events planned through the week leading up to the Homecoming football game against Rutgers. All events have the goal of getting alumni, students and faculty involved, according to Homecoming Committee Director of Marketing and Communications Amari Mbongwo.

One of the main events organized and hosted by the Homecoming Committee is the UW Homecoming Parade. The parade will take place the night of Friday, Oct. 6 and is a highlight of Homecoming week, according to Mbongwo.

Various members of the community, student organizations, the UW Spirit Squad, Bucky Badger and the UW Marching Band participate in the parade route, which travels down Gilman Street to end on Lake Street, according to the Wisconsin Homecoming website.

Events surrounding the parade are hosted by the WAA, including the Block Party and Pep Rally directly following the parade.

The Block Party will be hosted at Alumni Park and Memorial Union Terrace with live music from DJay Mando playing on the Terrace stage. The Pep Rally will also be held on the Terrace stage later that night, according to Zdrale.

Members of the UW Marching Band, the UW Spirit Squad and Director of the UW Marching Band Corey Pompey will all appear during the Pep Rally, with Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin making remarks as well, according to Zdrale.

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In addition to the parade and Pep Rally, the UW Marching Band is part of multiple events during the Homecoming game, including the Badger Bash Tailgate Party, the football game, the halftime show and fifth quarter, Pompey said.

“For a lot of fans, this might be the only game that they get to go to,” Pompey said. “Our hope is that when they come to that football game, they’re going to see the best that we have to offer. That’s not to say we don’t strive for that every week, but certainly for Homecoming, there is a little bit of extra something in the air.”

Additionally, this will be the 11th year of a fundraising tradition called “Fill the Hill,” hosted by the University of Wisconsin Foundation. This year the event will begin Oct. 5 at 5 p.m.

The tradition began as a prank in 1979, when 1,008 pink plastic flamingos were placed on Bascom Hill by members of a student group called the Pail and Shovel Party, according to Wisconsin Foundation Director of Annual Giving Betsy Popelka Massnick.

“For every gift that comes in that is given by a member of our community, we plant a flamingo in the lawn of Bascom Hill,” Massnick said. “It’s a really tangible way to see the impact of giving and philanthropy on campus.”

There are over 100 areas across campus that students, faculty and the community can go to to support UW through gifts, giving everyone a chance to find something they care about to give to, according to Massnick. 

There have been over 15,000 gifts totalling $2.4 million over the course of the fundraiser’s history, Massnick said.

“It’s a huge impact, and it’s also a fun way to share that impact visually with our community, with students who have never heard about it,” Massnick said.

A recent addition to the Homecoming week lineup was a kickoff concert, with this year’s artist being Armani White, Mbongwo said. The concert came at the very beginning of Homecoming festivities, occurring last Saturday, Sept. 30 at Union South.

More featured events hosted by the WAA can be found on the WAA website and more featured events hosted by the Homecoming Committee can be found on the UW Homecoming Committee website.

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