It is impossible to safely have a traditional homecoming experience amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditions like the bonfire and homecoming parade will not happen at all this year, and while the football homecoming game is still set to take place, it will look different from most years with limited attendance and mask mandates. There are still plenty of ways to enjoy the week while staying safe, however, despite the loss of many in-person activities due to the pandemic.
1. Participate in the virtual homecoming activities
While a normal homecoming week may not be possible, UNT is hosting numerous virtual events for students to be involved in. If you enjoy arts and crafts, you can do bonfire etching, poker chip painting or even make a card for patients at Cook Children’s Hospital. If you prefer more of a social activity, consider registering for the trivia night, treasure hunt or bonfire games, all held via Zoom. Whatever your preference, there are many ways to participate in homecoming week activities.
2. Watch the football game, either in-person or virtually
North Texas football will face off against Louisiana Tech University in the homecoming game on Saturday, Nov. 7. Students can get free tickets to attend the game in-person, but with limited capacity and potential COVID-19 concerns, watching the game on TV may be a safer and more appealing option. If you live with roommates, make the day a group experience by cooking game day foods for each other and watching the game together. Whether experienced in-person or from home, the football game is an important part of homecoming week and can still be safely enjoyed during a pandemic.
3. Get together with friends (safely) at a park
Getting out of your home is a great way to recharge and escape from the stresses of school. While it can be difficult to safely hang out with friends during the pandemic, going to a park is a great way to socialize while minimizing the risks of contracting COVID-19. Socializing is an important aspect of life — one which has been especially hard to come by during the pandemic — so why not find a local park to visit friends face-to-face? Take homecoming week as a good excuse to catch up with friends while getting outside and staying safe, a great all-around combination. Maybe even take food and blankets to make it a socially-distant picnic.
4. Bet it all on red (or Mean Green)
This year’s homecoming theme is “Welcome to Fabulous North Texas,” a play on the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. Vegas is obviously known for its gambling scene, so why not play your own casino-style card games at home? Traditional card games like blackjack and poker are relatively easy to learn and can be very enjoyable if you have a few roommates to play with. We all deserve a break from school once in a while, and playing cards is an easy way to make homecoming your own and briefly escape from the stresses of college during a pandemic.
5. Learn about UNT’s history and traditions
Understanding UNT’s history and traditions is a great way to celebrate homecoming and build a deeper connection to the place you call home. Whether you look through entries on the UNT libraries website, conduct research of your own or simply read the Daily’s article on UNT’s history and traditions, this is a perfect opportunity to learn about the place you call home and get in the homecoming spirit. UNT has an interesting history and unique traditions to say the least, so why not take the opportunity to better understand your university?
6. Connect with current students and alumni virtually
Homecoming’s purpose, ultimately, is to bring current and former students together on campus. It provides alumni with an opportunity to reunite at their alma mater while giving students a chance to understand the university’s history and connect with peers and fellow alumni. While meeting lots of new people in-person is not the safest option during a pandemic, social media provides the opportunity to interact with almost anyone without the pandemic’s dangers. Human interaction has been sorely lacking during this difficult time, but with virtual platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Facetime or even Houseparty, there are many ways to safely connect with others. And not only can these interactions be fun, but they can also be valuable networking opportunities. There is really nothing to lose in at least trying to connect with current and former students. Who knows, you may just make a lifelong friend in the process.
Featured Illustration by Austin Banzon