HUNTINGTON, W.Va.—Marshall University’s Homecoming celebration is slated for next week in Huntington, bringing together alumni, family, friends and community members for the annual gathering. The Homecoming theme, ‘Back and Better Than Ever’ highlights the Herd’s return to in-person events this year, after COVID-19 forced many events last year to happen virtually.
“We are so excited to once again be able to gather together on our beautiful campus to celebrate Homecoming as a family,” said Matt Hayes, executive director of alumni relations. “The past year has been a difficult one for all of us. Lockdowns and virtual gatherings have seemingly become the norm and many in the Marshall community, like those around the world, have been left pining for that warm glow of our campus home. This year, we are looking forward to reuniting with that Marshall spirit and remembering why the university is such a special place in the hearts of so many.”
That excitement also extends to current students who call Marshall University home.
“We are very excited for these events, especially for the benefit of our students,” said Matt James, assistant dean of student affairs. “Homecoming is a special time on campus when students have the opportunity to truly feel connected and gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a part of the Marshall Family.”
Activities begin at 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, with the Unity Walk, an annual event celebrating unity, inclusion and oneness with music, fellowship and fun. Community members are invited and encouraged to participate. The walk begins at the Marshall Rec Center and ends at the Memorial Student Center Plaza. Marshall’s Homecoming Court and Unity Walk banner contest winners will also be announced. Please note: Due to COVID-19 concerns related to large gatherings, masks are required, regardless of vaccination status.
At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7, Marshall’s Homecoming parade will march down the streets of Huntington, featuring Grand Marshals honoring the 1971 Young Thundering Herd football team, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary season this year. One year after the devastating 1970 plane crash that took the lives of 75 people, including Marshall players, coaches, community members and flight crew members, a team of freshmen and walk-ons, aptly dubbed the Young Thundering Herd, took the field and helped set the benchmark for a return to prominence for Marshall University and its football program. The team will be led by Allen Meadows, a member of the Young Thundering Herd, and Lucianne Kautz-Call, former cheerleader and daughter of former Director of Athletics Charlie E. Kautz, who perished on Southern Airways Flight 932.
This year, the parade will begin on Fourth Avenue at Tenth Street and travel east to Hal Greer Boulevard, where it will move up to Fifth Avenue and continue east to 17th Street at Harless Dining Hall. For those who are unable to attend the Homecoming parade in person, a livestream of the event may be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/marshallu.
A bonfire is once again scheduled to take place immediately following the parade on Harless Field (located between Harless Dining Hall and City National Bank). This year, the event has been modified. The Marching Thunder will perform, yard games and s’mores kits will be available, music will be played on site by Bravo Live DJ and students from Marshall University’s radio station, 88.1 WMUL-FM, will interview special guests during a live remote.
On Friday, Oct. 8, Picnic on the Plaza returns from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. The event features free food, music, a pep rally and photo booth, presented by the Marshall University Alumni Association. The event is free and open to students, alumni and the campus community.
From 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. on Friday evening, the life and legacy of Marshall and NBA great Hal Greer will be honored in the Fairfield community with a free block party. Music and food will be provided. The event precedes the unveiling of a statue honoring Hal Greer adjacent to the Cam Henderson Center on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 18th Street at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9. The event is open to the public.
At 9 a.m., on Saturday, Oct. 9, the Homecoming Stampede 5K, presented by the Alumni Association, will feature a campus-focused run/walk with awards for multiple age groups. Registration and the start of the race both begin on the Memorial Student Center Plaza.
At 11:30 a.m., the annual Marshall Alumni and Family Tailgate will take place in a new location in the Joan C. Edwards Stadium East Lot, beside the Chris Cline Indoor Athletic Complex. The tailgate features food, drinks, music and special guest appearances. Tickets to attend are $10.
At 2 p.m., the Thundering Herd takes on the Old Dominion Monarchs at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. During halftime, the Homecoming Court will be crowned on the field.
Wrapping up the week’s events at 8 p.m. at the historic Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center, community members are invited to attend the university’s Homecoming Step Show, featuring Tag Team and hosted by comedian Corey Rodriguez. The step show features entertainment, music and a night of laughs. Prizes will be awarded for audience participation. The event is free and open to the public.
Many virtual events are slated to take place throughout the week, as well, for those who would like to join in online. Events include: Virtual Game Nights, Paint Social Media Green, Social Hour with a special guest and the Exploring Marshall Video Series. Additional details can be found by visiting https://www.herdalum.com/calendar-of-events.
Other student-focused events taking place can be found by visiting https://www.marshall.edu/homecoming/events/.