Lights, Camera, Action! It’s Homecoming!

Being that it’s both Homecoming at IU and a presidential debate week, it only seemed fitting to prep this blog banter with a primer on “the great homecoming debate.”

For those who haven’t heard, there’s a historical battle raging about who started this quintessential college and university tradition. True to its Fighting Illini spirit, the University of Illinois boasts being one of the first universities to celebrate homecoming (in 1910). Just last year, the top-rated TV show “NCIS” gave the University of Missouri an on-air shout-out for starting the tradition. (Missouri’s homecoming dates back to its 1911 football game versus border rival Kansas.) And then there’s Baylor University, which has a homecoming history dating back to 1909.

Want to know Hoo, Hoo, Hoo else can stake rightful ownership of the first homecoming? The Hoosiers, that’s who. Indeed, IU celebrated its first “Gala Week” in June 1908, “a time of general homecoming and reunions,” according to an Indiana Daily Student article published a little over a week before the inaugural activities. A year later, a “Gala Day” event was moved to November to coincide with the IU-Purdue football game, and, in 1910, it was officially renamed “Homecoming.”

Sorry, NCIS, case closed.

Like a good political strategist, I’m choosing to spin the great debate IU’s way, of course, but there’s simply no denying that, here in Bloomington, we have one of the most fun, active and spirited homecoming traditions. And this year’s IU Homecoming might just be one of the busiest IU celebrations yet. The festivities kick off this evening with the Nearly Naked Mile run around campus to benefit the United Way of Monroe County and culminate Saturday at Memorial Stadium with a gridiron contest against nationally ranked Michigan State. In between, there’s the “IU’s Got Talent” student competition at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater; a special IU Alumni Panel featuring several young Hoosier alums who went from Btown to the bright showbiz lights of the big city; a free concert in Dunn Meadow; and the Hoosier Village Homecoming Tailgate Party at Memorial Stadium prior to Saturday’s big game.

Additionally, this year, in keeping with the “Lights, Camera, Action!” theme of Homecoming, there are also several big screenings to take in at the IU Cinema, including the box-office smashes “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012) and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010), produced by IU alums Michael Uslan and Dave Neustadter, respectively.

Neustadter, who will participate in the IU Alumni Panel activity on Thursday, has previously reminisced fondly about his years as a student at IU, his favorite classes (among them, Glenn Gass’ history of rock ‘n’ roll course) and working as a student manager at IU Auditorium, an orientation leader and director of morale for IU Dance Marathon.

For Neustadter and other IU alums, there’s simply no debate: Homecoming at IU remains one of the best times to return to campus, relive their favorite college memories and celebrate all that is special about this great university.

Twitter users: Find the latest Homecoming news by searching #IUHomecoming. Follow @IUAA for reminders and live updates.

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