Homecoming Week at UM feels like a holiday. Saturday, Sept. 26 showcases the Homecoming football game versus Northern Arizona! But Homecoming is about so much more than football. Many alumni travel from across the country to celebrate being a part of UM. Even Oscar winner and UM alum J.K. Simmons has made an appearance or two during Homecoming week. Be sure to check out the other events and a brief history of Homecoming at the bottom of this post.
The Hello Walk
Take the opportunity to leave your mark by painting “hello” on the sidewalk outside of Turner Hall in any language you choose! By the end of the day, the cheerful sidewalk says “hello” in hundreds of languages. Feel free to get creative! The painting party commences at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25. The Alumni Association provides painting supplies. In line with this long-standing tradition, be sure to greet anyone you pass on this stretch of sidewalk with one of the greetings written below your feet!
The UC Art Fair Festival has provided the Missoula community with local art since 1970! A juried committee based on quality, craft level and uniqueness accepts the vendors. Some of the products include woodwork, home decor, sculpture, photography, jewelry, pottery and more. There will be live music complementing the art festival. The Homecoming Art Festival begins at 9 a.m. Thursday and Friday Sept. 24-25, in the UC Atrium and runs until 6 p.m.
Insider Tip: If you have the chance, try to browse during the midmorning or afternoon. It’s less crowded than during the lunchtime hours and you can chat with some of the artists!
Yell Night Pep Rally
Gather around the Oval with the Montana Grizzlies football team, Spirit Squad, marching band and – last but not least – Monte for the pep rally at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25. There will be a bonfire, fireworks and the lighting of the M.
The Homecoming Parade
Griz morning! Gather along Higgins and University avenues at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 26 for the Homecoming parade! The entire Missoula community comes together for the parade to celebrate UM! Former alumni band members team up with the marching band to commemorate their alma mater. Many UM student groups have a float and so do members of the Missoula community.
Insider Tip: Try to find a place early, you’ll have a better view and better access for catching candy and other swag.
For more information on other Homecoming events:
A Brief History of Homecoming
Homecoming Week is a great time to reminisce since the entire tradition is based on connecting past and present. As UM begins its week of celebration, the BRNTLY blog decided to dig a little deeper to find out more about homecoming traditions and a little history of Homecoming at UM.
The beginning of the Homecoming Celebration as we now know it often is credited to another UM –the University of Missouri – in 1911. According to an article published by the University of Missouri’s MIZZOU magazine, then Director of Athletics Chester Brewer had the idea to invite alumni to “come home” for a football game against rival University of Kansas and reconnect with past friends and current students. More than 9,000 people returned for the occasion and the Homecoming tradition was born, spreading across the country and evolving into the weeklong extravaganzas we are familiar with today. Missouri has a few challengers to the title of Homecoming originator. According to Active.com, both Baylor University and the University of Illinois claim to have had Homecoming celebrations in 1910, a year earlier than University of Missouri, while Harvard and Yale have one of the longest-running, annual football match-ups, starting all the way back in 1875. Regardless of where it started, the tradition of returning to an alma mater and enjoying the thrill of an annual sports match has lived on for more than a century.
University of Montana has its own unique Homecoming tradition. During a week of festivities that include a football game, a parade, a pep rally and more, UM students hike up Mount Sentinel to light up to the M as a symbolic beacon to call the alumni home. The M is a point of pride for UM and has been through several incarnations throughout the years. The first M was a pile of rocks measuring 25 feet by 25 feet. Today, the concrete M measures 125 feet by 100 feet and is a must-see attraction in Missoula.
Let’s Have a Parade!
A search through the digital archives at the Mansfield Library produced the above image of a Homecoming Float headed to the parade in the 1950s. Even though the photo is slightly degraded, it is clear from the detail of the float that Homecoming has been serious business at UM for more than half a century. This year’s parade, themed “A Tradition of Champions,” commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Grizzlies 1995 National Championship win.
Homecoming Week at UM is, at its core, about coming together to celebrate the University experience. While it may be centered around a sporting event, there is no doubt that whatever your interests, Homecoming Week at UM is not to be missed.