By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – Get your blue and gold gear ready.
It’s time to celebrate homecoming at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Loper pride will be on full display next week as students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members come together to support UNK through a variety of activities.
“Homecoming week gives alumni an opportunity to come back and reconnect with UNK, and for current students it’s a chance to relax, have fun and show everyone why we love being Lopers,” said Emma Thede, a junior from St. Paul.
Thede and fellow UNK student Paige Ketteler of Petersburg are co-chairs of the Loper Programming and Activities Council (LPAC) homecoming committee, which plans many of the week’s events. LPAC members also selected this year’s homecoming theme – Around the World and Back to UNK.
“No matter where you end up in life, whether it’s halfway across the world or here in Kearney, you always have a home here at UNK,” Thede said of the theme.
The homecoming festivities kick off Monday with the annual lawn display competition and a 5 p.m. pep rally near the Bell Tower. Chancellor Doug Kristensen and UNK football player Jack McLeay, a senior offensive lineman from Omaha, will speak at the pep rally, and the eight finalists for homecoming royalty will be announced. Louie the Loper and UNK’s cheer and dance teams will also make appearances at the new event.
“It’s a great way to start the week and get everyone excited,” Thede said.
The state’s largest lip-sync contest, which regularly draws a crowd of more than 1,500 people, is 7 p.m. Thursday inside the Health and Sports Center, followed by the crowning of UNK’s homecoming royalty.
On Friday (Oct. 4), the UNK Alumni Association will present its Distinguished Alumni Awards during an 11:30 a.m. luncheon in the Nebraskan Student Union Ponderosa Room, and the UNK Athletic Hall of Fame will induct five new members during a 5:30 p.m. banquet in the Ponderosa Room.
A UNK and community tradition, the homecoming parade begins 10 a.m. Saturday (Oct. 5) at the Museum of Nebraska Art, 2401 Central Ave., in downtown Kearney. The parade route progresses south on Central Avenue, west on Railroad Street, north on Third Avenue, west on 21st Street, south on Eighth Avenue and west on 20th Street before ending at Ninth Avenue near Pioneer Park.
There’s still time for businesses, organizations, bands and student groups to join the parade. The deadline for entries is noon Friday (Oct. 4). Registration is available at unk.edu/homecoming or by calling 308-865-8523.
The UNK football team faces Northeastern State University at 2 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 5) at Cope Stadium, with pregame activities beginning at noon in the parking lot. The UNK Alumni Association is hosting its “Brews and Brats Tailgate” in Loperville, and Loper Fan Fest features free hot dogs, live music and tailgating.
Homecoming royalty and UNK Athletic Hall of Fame inductees will be recognized during the game, and the UNK Sapphires Dance Team and Pride of the Plains Marching Band will perform.
Other homecoming highlights include the Loper Feud, based on the popular TV show “Family Feud,” a canned food build supporting local food banks and adventure race.
Thede expects to see the entire city in blue and gold next week.
“The Kearney community is involved in everything surrounding UNK,” she said. “That’s one of the big draws for students. You’re not just coming to college, you’re coming to a community that supports you.”
UNK HOMECOMING HIGHLIGHTS
Sunday, Sept. 29
1 p.m. – Soccer vs. Washburn (Cope Stadium)
Monday, Sept. 30
5 p.m. – Pep rally with announcement of homecoming royalty finalists and lawn display competition (Bell Tower)
Tuesday, Oct. 1
Noon – Loper Luncheon with UNK Athletics (Cope Stadium, Wiens Room)
5:30 p.m. – Adventure Race (Bell Tower)
Wednesday, Oct. 2
5 p.m. – Loper Feud (Fine Arts Recital Hall)
Thursday, Oct. 3
7 p.m. – Lip-sync contest and royalty crowning (Health and Sports Center)
Friday, Oct. 4
11:30 a.m. – Distinguished Alumni Awards luncheon (Nebraskan Student Union Ponderosa Room)
3:30 pm – One Room, One Teacher Induction Ceremony (College of Education Atrium)
5 p.m. – Canned Food Build (Nebraskan Student Union courtyard)
5:30 p.m. – UNK Athletic Hall of Fame banquet (Nebraskan Student Union Ponderosa Room)
Saturday, Oct. 5
10 a.m. – Homecoming parade (Downtown Kearney)
Noon – Brews and Brats Tailgate and Loper Fan Fest (Cope Stadium Loperville)
2 p.m. – Football vs. Northeastern State (Cope Stadium)