OSU's homecoming in high gear in Stillwater
Town dons orange for one of biggest such events in country
STILLWATER — 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 student 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 Stampede 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 on 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.
• Alumni registration, noon to 5 p.m. at OSU Alumni Center, 5:30 to 10 p.m. at Homecoming Hub at Walkaround.
• Class of 1967 check-in, campus tours and hospitality, 1 to 4 p.m., OSU Alumni Center.
• Walkaround, 5:30 to 9 p.m., Greek neighborhood.
• Homecoming & Hoops, 9 to 10:30 p.m., Gallagher-Iba Arena. Doors open at 8 p.m.
• Cowboy Corral & Traditions Tailgate, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at OSU Alumni Center.
• Football game, 2:30 p.m., Boone Pickens Stadium.
Go to orangeconnection.org for more information.
It goes on for 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.
Oklahoma State University students admire homecoming signs as they walk through the Edmon Low Library lawn Monday.