This week, Hastings College has seen a different Homecoming than usual. All students and visitors have been expected to follow COVID-19 health measures such as wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing.
One of the biggest changes has been planning events around the health measures. This has led most events to be on-campus, featuring new venues and formats being introduced to the Homecoming line-up for the first time this year.
These changes offer expected community traditions and new ones to experience while still staying safe to gather and celebrate going forward into this weekend.
Homecoming was kicked off Sunday, Sept. 20, with a bonfire and s’mores near Kiewit. Going into the next few days, students had the opportunity to form groups to compete in various events, with the winner being announced at halftime on Saturday. Monday included a chance for individuals to test their pop culture knowledge at the Through the Decade Pop Culture Trivia night. The Bed Races on Tuesday had various challenges to complete. Wednesday was a community service day of mulching campus. Traditional events like the Chalk Walk, also on Wednesday, and Skit Night on Thursday continued to showcase students’ creativity.
Today, starting weekend events, Bronco Golf is being held at the Southern Hills Golf Course at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Proceeds from the $100 participation fee will go towards HC Athletics. Later at 6:30 p.m., the annual Homecoming dinner and announcement of royalty will be held in the Jackson Dinsdale Art Center (JDAC)/Gray Center parking lot instead of the usual location in Kiewit.
“We are only doing six chairs to a table as opposed to the usual eight. Then we will have just more tables spread out,” said Director of Student Activities Beth Simoens about social distance guidelines with the dinner outside.
Instead of a buffet-style dinner, one table group at a time will line up to be served by Fresh Ideas individually.
“This will be more of a slow process of people getting their food, but it is just obviously safer COVID wise to ensure that less people are in line and crowding the areas,” Simoens said.
After dinner, the Sebastian Lane Band will be holding a concert on the west lawn by the Lynn Farrell Arena. Guests are encouraged to bring a blanket or bag chair for seating.
On Saturday, the day is packed with events and activities. At 10 a.m., The Melody (Reverse) Round-up Parade will be on campus where viewers can drive or walk to see floats by students, organizations and clubs while listening to the bands. Before the football game at 1 p.m., HC picnic will have prepackaged lunches (available with a meal plan) from 11:15-1 p.m. for guests to grab and find a seat in the JDAC/Gray Center parking lot or around campus. The tables will be properly spaced to allow social distance. At all sporting events — football, women’s soccer at 5:30 p.m., and men’s at 8 p.m. — spectators are required to wear masks and social distance. Areas of off-limits seating will be taped off.
At 5 p.m., an in-person graduation ceremony will be held on Taylor Hall lawn. With only a virtual ceremony back in May, administrators were waiting until it was safe enough to plan a casual in-person gathering. The 51 graduates who RSVP’ed as of last Friday and their families are to wear masks and bring lawn chairs to sit in as a group.
“Although we learned a lot of things this year and if it is not safe to host an in-person graduation (in May 2021) we would again keep everyone safe over hosting an event,” said Barbara Sunderman, vice president of academic affairs. “We might change a venue but it’s really important to us that we celebrate and that we keep the community safe.”
To end Saturday, Movie on the Lawn, a new event, will be playing “Footloose” (1984) at the Fuhr Hall lawn at 8 p.m. Seating, food and drinks are welcome, some snacks will be provided. Masks and social distance are required.
Wrapping up the weekend will be HC Sunday at the First Presbyterian Church via Facebook Live at 10:30 a.m. The HC Choir will provide music.