By LYNDSAY MACH, NEWS3 Reporter
MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) – Homecoming at Western Illinois University will look differently this year in more ways than one.
With COVID-19 restrictions, homecoming, typically held in October, was pushed back to April in hopes to have at least some in-person events. With regulations being scaled back, homecoming organizers have created a way for students to get together.
“We’re not able to connect to fellow Leathernecks face to face with COVID and everything, so really promoting that student engagement is our goal, and we really hope to do that with homecoming.” WIU Homecoming Co-Director Elizabeth Orwig said.
By switching up some of the events to fit the COVID-19 protocols, almost all of the events are able to be in person with masks and proper social distancing. The only event that is fully online for students is the TikTok challenge. The alumni are also getting involved in homecoming this spring. However, a majority of the homecoming celebrations were virtual back in October, and there will be fewer events this spring.
“During the course of the two days, six or seven virtual events (are planned) about every hour on the hour,” Director of Alumni Programs Amy Spelman said about the events that were held in the fall.
However, there are still some events that alumni can get involved in this spring, including Paint the Paws at 10 a.m. on March 27 at the Alumni House and the Old Stompin’ Ground Runaround 5K at 8 a.m. on April 3. The 5K run begins at Sherman Hall.
“We’re looking forward to anything we can do this year in April, and then come October,” Spelman said. “Look out, we’ll be back at it.”
The students also have a full line up of events. The TikTok Challenge is being held from March 22- 26. On March 25, DIY Spirit Jars will eheld from noon to 2 p.m. Paint the Paws will be 10 a.m. on March 27, Movie Night at 7:30 p.m. on March 30, and a Scavenger Hunt will be held noon-2 p.m. on April 1. The TikTok Challenge, Spirit Jars, and Movie Night are all new homecoming this year.
The events were made to allow for more individual participation to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, some of the events are set up to allow for students to participate in small teams. The university will have the events posted on Purple Post.
“We haven’t been able to do the normal events that a lot of people want to come to, but we still have been trying to find ways to promote that school spirit,” Orwig said.