Current and former students of UC Irvine enjoyed a street festival before the Homecoming basketball game on Saturday with live entertainment, including a performance from Orange County band Mêlée. UCI Alumni Association recorded 1,886 pre-registered guests and estimated an attendance of 2,500 students and alumni.
In addition to local bands performing on the stage at the end of Mesa Road, the street festival featured inflatable bounce houses, barbecues, booths for different school departments and a Greek village.
Planning began in earnest at the beginning of winter quarter. Organizations across campus formed a campus-wide Homecoming committee of about 30 organization representatives that was spearheaded by the UCI Alumni Association.
“We worked closely with Student Affairs and ASUCI [in planning Homecoming],” said Jorge Ancona, assistant vice chancellor of alumni relations for the UCI Alumni Association.
Although the UCI Alumni Association and ASUCI were some of the most involved organizations in the campus-wide Homecoming planning committee, other organizations contributed in other ways. UCI Athletics donated 1,500 tickets for the Homecoming basketball game against UC Riverside to the UCI Alumni Association, which gave away the tickets to alumni who pre-registered online.
“This year, we were really involved with the entertainment [for Homecoming]. We contributed production and arranged for the bands to come,” said Alec Kushner, events manager for ASUCI. “For us, this all started with Shocktoberfest to create a renewed sense of spirit, specifically through athletics [and to make] something to rally behind.”
Kushner also stated that he was aiming to transform the annual UCI event.
“We’re trying to create a tradition where the homecoming festival is about more than just a game,” Kushner said.
UCI Alumni and ASUCI split up planning duties for the Homecoming week. ASUCI covered the weeklong events before the Homecoming game on Saturday with a different event each day, beginning with a Jeopardy game on Monday, a performance on Tuesday by the group “LMFAO,” a Homecoming Court talent show on Thursday and a Homecoming Court obstacle course on Friday.
UCI Alumni Association planned the street festival portion of Homecoming week. This was the first year the street festival occurred on Mesa Road adjacent to the Bren Events Center; in previous years, organizers held the street festival in a parking lot further away from the Bren Events Center.
“This type of layout actually works better. I like the fact that it’s more spread out,” Ancona said.
Although Homecoming is open to all students, UCI Alumni Association works to bring alumni back and get them involved with events.
“We do these types of activities to give a reason for people to come back to campus,” Ancona said. “Hopefully they’ll have a good feeling about [the services we provide] and will donate later in the year.”
Greek students manning booths in the Greek village credited a similar motivation for attracting graduated students back to campus.
“I see it as an opportunity to take advantage of our graduated brothers and sisters for insight, internships and opportunities outside the scope of the college scene,” said Aric Barreras, a third-year civil engineering major and member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.
Overall, participants agreed that Homecoming was a good opportunity for cooperation and interaction between the various groups and organizations of the UCI community.
“It’s a good way to bring together all the organizations on campus like the Greeks, Athletics, different departments and student government. [Homecoming] is a haven for school pride. Zot zot!” said Marie Spada, a third-year film and media studies major and member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.
Ancona summed up the night’s festivities and looked to the future.
“It’s really nice to see so many parts of campus coming together. It’s great that people are willing to come out on Saturday and interact with alumni,” Ancona said. “Hopefully we’ll have 5,000 people come next year.”
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