OSU home­com­ing tra­di­tions are BIG

Fri­day night Walka­round can draw as many as 100,000 peo­ple

The Oklahoman - - FRONT PAGE - BY K.S. MCNUTT Staff Writer | km­c­nutt@ok­la­homan.com

Any way you look at it, home­com­ing at Ok­la­homa State Univer­sity is huge. The dec­o­ra­tions are enor­mous. The crowd at Fri­day night’s Walka­round can reach 100,000 when the weather co­op­er­ates. The Sea of Or­ange Pa­rade will have more than 140 en­tries this year.

“Ev­ery­thing about this home­com­ing makes it one of the big­gest in the coun­try,” said Chris Batchelder, OSU Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent. “We are ready for the an­nual de­scent upon our lit­tle com­mu­nity.

“It has be­come such a great tra­di­tion for us. Ev­ery univer­sity has some­thing that they’re known for. At Ok­la­homa State, home­com­ing is our thing. So many peo­ple build their year around it. It’s the thing we’re most proud of,” Batchelder said.

When the Bay­lor ver­sus OSU foot­ball game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. Satur­day, Batchelder, his staff and the dozens of stu­dents vol­un­teers who have spent months plan­ning and co­or­di­nat­ing ev­ery home­com­ing ac­tiv­ity will fi­nally be able to take a deep breath.

Home­com­ing 2017: ‘Her­ald Your Fame’ — a phrase taken from the OSU Alma Mater — be­gan Oct. 5 with the Cow­boy Stam­peded Rodeo and cul­mi­nates with “the mass hys­te­ria dur­ing half­time to give out all the awards,” Batchelder said.

Stu­dents cov­ered the li­brary lawn with cre­ative signs for home­com­ing week and painted en­cour­ag­ing words in bright or­ange along the route the foot­ball play­ers will take to the sta­dium Satur­day. A car­ni­val, chili cook-off, stu­dent bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment, cam­pus tours and tail­gat­ing fill in the agenda.

“The great­est thing about OSU home­com­ing is it truly is one of a kind. It goes on for 10 days,” Batchelder said.

OSU alum­nus and cham­pion golfer Rickie Fowler is this year’s grand mar­shal. Fowler will take part in sev­eral events, in­clud­ing Home­com­ing & Hoops on Fri­day, the pa­rade at 9 a.m. Satur­day, the Cow­boy Cor­ral Pep Rally be­fore the foot­ball game and the pre­sen­ta­tion of home­com­ing

awards for best pa­rade en­tries, Greek house dec­o­ra­tions, lawn signs and res­i­den­tial hall light­ing dec­o­ra­tions.

The elab­o­rate house dec­o­ra­tions built each year by OSU soror­ity and fra­ter­nity pairs are com­pleted and in­stalled un­der dead­line pres­sure Thurs­day night and Fri­day morn­ing. Ath­letes and their coaches de­liver piz­zas, cook­ies and en­cour­age­ment to the troops rac­ing to fin­ish the work, Batchelder said.

Walka­round — when thou­sands ad­mire the re­sults and par­take of food truck fare — of­fi­cially be­gins at 5:30 p.m. Fri­day, “but peo­ple don’t wait,” he said. The crowd will be gath­er­ing when the judg­ing starts at 3 p.m.

Batchelder cred­its Rob Hill, di­rec­tor of the Still­wa­ter Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, for co­or­di­nat­ing nu­mer­ous agen­cies and putting “a great safety plan in place.”

The is­sue of safety be­came para­mount af­ter the tragedy dur­ing the 2015 home­com­ing pa­rade. Four peo­ple died and more than 40 oth­ers were in­jured af­ter a driver smashed her car into the crowd.

The dis­as­ter didn’t dampen the Cow­boy spirit. Home­com­ing 2016 was bit­ter­sweet, but the tra­di­tion con­tin­ued in its big way.

“It would have been a dis­ser­vice to the lives lost not to come back strong the next year. Last year was re­ally spe­cial for us,” Batchelder said.

[PHOTO BY GARY LAW­SON, OK­LA­HOMA STATE UNIVER­SITY]

Ok­la­homa State Univer­sity stu­dents ad­mire home­com­ing signs as they walk through the Ed­mon Low Li­brary lawn Mon­day.

[PHO­TOS BY GARY LAW­SON, OK­LA­HOMA STATE UNIVER­SITY]

Emma Maritz, of Pryor, and Ridge Hugh­banks, of Alva, “pomp” a por­tion of the house dec­o­ra­tion for Farm­house fra­ter­nity and Pi Beta Phi soror­ity as Greek houses at OSU pre­pare for Fri­day’s home­com­ing Walka­round.

Shawn Fer­rell, 3, of Or­lando, plays a game of pump­kin bowl­ing dur­ing Tues­day night’s Har­vest Car­ni­val at the Payne County Fair­grounds.

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