Ball State Homecoming Committee members look ahead to fall events

<p>Members of the Pride of Mid-America (POMA) Marching Band perform at the Homecoming Parade on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019 in the Village. The parade will return for fall 2021 Homecoming. <strong>Jaden Whiteman, DN File</strong></p>

Members of the Pride of Mid-America (POMA) Marching Band perform at the Homecoming Parade on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019 in the Village. The parade will return for fall 2021 Homecoming. Jaden Whiteman, DN File

Fall 2021 Homecoming events


Homecoming Village — Food Truck Festival

Monday, Oct. 18

6-8 p.m.

North Martin Street, between Ashland and University avenues

Talent Search

Tuesday, Oct. 19

7:30 p.m.

Pruis Hall

Blood Drive

Wednesday, Oct. 20

10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Pruis Hall

Campus Dinner

Wednesday, Oct. 20

5:30 p.m.

Woodworth Dining Hall

Air Jam

Thursday, Oct. 21

7:30 p.m.

Emens Auditorium

Bed Races

Friday, Oct. 22

Noon

West Riverside Avenue

Carbonaro: Lies on Stage

Friday, Oct. 22

7:30 p.m.

Emens Auditorium

Chase Charlie 5K

Saturday, Oct. 23

9:45 a.m.

Muncie City Hall to campus

Parade

Saturday, Oct. 23

10 a.m.

Muncie City Hall to campus

Homecoming football game

Saturday, Oct. 23

3:30 p.m.

Scheumann Stadium


Source: Ball State Homecoming web page

Throughout its 95-year history at Ball State, Homecoming has evolved from a simple celebration of school pride into a weeklong event that takes months to plan. Now, for the first time, Cardinals will have the chance to celebrate Homecoming twice in the same year. 

Beginning Oct. 18, Ball State will celebrate its Homecoming in a traditional fall format once again. The Bed Races will return to West Riverside Avenue, Air Jam participants will be allowed to unmask and other events will welcome audiences and spectators back in person.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the fall 2020 Homecoming was postponed to last spring. Multiple events, such as the Homecoming Kickoff and alumni engagement receptions, were completely virtual. Others included restrictions for social distancing, including Air Jam, the Talent Search and Bed Races. 

Michelle Johnson, director of alumni engagement, student, young alumni and athletics programs, is the Homecoming Steering Committee adviser on campus. Johnson’s role as adviser, which she has been for 16 years, includes constantly engaging and working with alumni for the Ball State Foundation. 

“This fall, we will be hosting our traditional Homecoming events in person while keeping some virtual elements,” Johnson said. “We are looking forward to holding our events that the Ball State community has grown to love in a more traditional way through in-person opportunities while keeping safety at the top of our priorities.”

Johnson said safety was the priority when planning events for students, alumni and faculty during Homecoming. Even with all of these factors in play, Johnson said she believes alumni will have an increased presence on campus during Homecoming compared to last spring’s events. 

“Homecoming provides many opportunities for alumni to come back to campus, reminisce with former classmates and friends and celebrate their alma mater,” Johnson said. “Our goal is to provide a wide variety of engaging events and activities for all of our constituent groups to enjoy.” 

2021 Homecoming Steering Committee General Chair Josie Marcum, senior organizational communication studies major, said last spring’s events were a success despite the circumstances. Marcum, who has been the Steering Committee chair since fall 2020, previously served as the parade chair for the fall 2020 committee.

“Everything had to be virtual, and we had to rethink almost everything,” Marcum said. “[It] came with a lot of challenges, but I think it went better than we expected.”

Marcum said, under normal circumstances, the Homecoming Steering Committee begins planning for the following year’s Homecoming in November once the interview and application process is complete, giving committee members almost a year to plan for the event. After the spring 2021 Homecoming, both the 2020 and 2021 committees worked together for a brief period, providing a unique opportunity for new committee members.

“[There was] a transitionary period for a few weeks where we were finishing up the spring Homecoming, brainstorming [and] prepping for fall,” Marcum said. “The few weeks of overlap were a great way for the new 2021 committee to learn from the previous 2020 committee.”

One of these new committee members was Marissa Perkowski, senior public relations major and social media chair of the 2021 Homecoming Steering Committee. Perkowski said she wanted to join the committee for the leadership opportunities that come with planning a university-wide celebration. 

Perkowski said her role as social media chair for the committee means she works closely with all committee members to advertise events ahead of Homecoming. Though the experience of planning for Homecoming has been unusual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Perkowski said she believes committee members have risen to the challenge.

“It [was] a lot of stress,” Perkowski said, “but I also think it showed the committee very quickly what we needed to get done, and everyone has been working extraordinarily hard to just get stuff done by the deadline.” 

Although she was nervous after being elected social media chair, Perkowski said being part of the committee was a rewarding experience and gave her a new perspective on the event she has enjoyed since she was a freshman. 

“This is the first fall Homecoming since 2019, [and] I do expect the Ball State community to show out,” Perkowski said. “As a freshman in 2018, Homecoming was the first time I really realized all that Ball State could be for me —  as a community with so many individuals showing up to share their love and appreciation for the university.” 

Marcum said the use of face masks was a common discussion point during the planning of events. She also said the university had worked closely with committee members to find a balance that was safe for students while also providing a sense of normalcy for indoor events.

For outdoor events where social distancing can’t be maintained, Marcum said masks are encouraged but not mandated. At Air Jam, audience members will have to wear masks, but they won’t be required for performers.

Marcum also said masks will not be required for participants in the Talent Search event, which invites students to showcase their talents in front of an audience in Pruis Hall and compete for a scholarship prize. She added that seeing everyone come together on campus has become one of her favorite things about Homecoming.

Some events, such as the Food Truck Festival, are marketed toward current students and faculty, but others — including the Charlie Town tailgate, Chase Charlie 5K and the Homecoming Parade — invite the entire Ball State community to enjoy each other’s company.

On Saturday, Oct. 23, Ball State Football will take on Mid-American Conference opponent Miami (Ohio) at Scheumann Stadium for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff, capping off Homecoming Week. At the game, the Pride of Mid-America (POMA) Marching Band will take the field to perform during pregame and halftime. 

Among the sea of feathered hats marching across the field will be Emily Harmon, senior visual arts education major and POMA saxophonist. Harmon has been a member of the band since she was a freshman and said the feeling of taking the field can be both exhausting and exciting.  

“When we move into noticeable shapes onto the field — horses, spelling out certain words, stars — it is an amazing feeling to hear the crowd gasp in shock or applaud,” Harmon said via email. “It really makes all the hard work pay off.” 

Harmon said the band typically practices three to four times a week. In addition to their performance at the Homecoming game, the POMA Marching Band will also participate in the Homecoming Parade.

“Typically, we practice marching for the parade only a couple of days before the actual [event],” Harmon said. “With being able to march new shows so quickly, perfecting the parade march isn’t exactly a challenge for the Pride of Mid-America Marching Band.” 

When POMA members take the field during the Homecoming game, Harmon said she encourages spectators to keep their eyes open for the different forms band members take. She said band members have a special finish planned for their performance that will show off their school spirit. 

The POMA Marching Band will also perform at its showcase event, which will take place Oct. 24 at Scheumann Stadium. During the event, Harmon said band members will invite children to come down from the crowd and help conduct the performance. 

“We have never done this before while I have been here, and I am so excited to see the kids' faces light up when they are conducting the entire band,” Harmon said. 

Now that people can gather together for events, Marcum said she is happy to host the Ball State community in Homecoming festivities.

“I know it sounds cheesy, but everyone comes together with their families and celebrates Ball State,” Marcum said. “You can just see the bond among everyone at all the events.”

Contact Eli Houser with comments at ejhouser@bsu.edu

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