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Oct. 13, 2011 Volume 33, No. 8

Crafting a centennial celebration

Crafting a centennial celebration for MU

INTO THE SPIRIT MizzouRec staff member Greg Kemp hangs a banner outside the Rothwell Gymnasium entrance of MizzouRec last week. The banners, which showcase a vintage feel of Homecoming, are only the start of the MizzouRec Homecoming decorations. More will emerge this week in preparation for Oct. 15. Photo courtesy of MizzouRec


Staff prepare campus for festivities

The much-anticipated University of Missouri Centennial Homecoming celebration and its many associated revelries don’t just happen — they are carefully designed, and mulled over with a tactical eye by those who do the planning.

All the black-and-gold banners, alumni events and open houses are not after thoughts. They are coordinated.

This year is no different. The 2011 Centennial Homecoming has been years in the making.

“I joined the Mizzou Alumni Association staff in the summer of 2009,” said Carrie Bien, coordinator of student programs for the Mizzou Alumni Association, “and I can recall conversations about the Centennial Homecoming my first summer in the office.”

The Mizzou Alumni Association takes the lead on all Homecoming planning and also oversees the student committees that help plan other aspects of the major university event.

The big day is Oct. 15 when the Homecoming parade, Romp, Chomp and Stomp tailgate and football game versus Iowa State University will culminate more than a week’s worth of Homecoming-related events. Until Oct. 15 — and prior to this week — MU staff have been working to prepare for the historic event.

Bien explained that although discussion of the Centennial Homecoming began in 2009, planning and mapping out goals started in summer 2010 and became clearer after last year’s Homecoming celebration. But since this year marks 100 years of Homecoming, significantly more planning has gone into the event than previous years.

“There are quite a few more moving parts than other years,” Bien said, adding that promotion of Homecoming events has also ramped up in comparison to previous years. “David Roloff, director of alumni relations, has taken the lead on our marketing efforts and is doing an outstanding job.”

It’s difficult to estimate exactly how many MU staff and man-hours go into preparing for Homecoming, but it’s noteworthy. There are approximately 20 employees in the Mizzou Alumni Association and, as Bien says, they are a small bunch but “certainly mighty.”

New events will also debut at the 2011 Homecoming, such as the Romp, Chomp and Stomp tailgate immediately following the parade at roughly 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at Carnahan Quadrangle.

The Homecoming tailgate is a rejuvenated tradition from the 1950s that is being modernized for alumni, faculty, staff and students of the 21st century. Also debuting at the tailgate will be a special guest — a 7-by-4-foot Bengal tiger made completely out of fresh flowers by Columbia’s Ambrosia Flowers, 115 N. Providence Road.

Employees at Ambrosia Flowers started on the fresh flower jungle cat two weeks ago, and it’s the establishment’s first go at a creation of its size though they’ve previously crafted other animals. The store’s owner said the fact that a creation from Ambrosia Flowers will be sitting in Carnahan Quadrangle for the Centennial Homecoming is a prideful moment, and everyone attending can be sure each flower was placed with a passion for Mizzou.   

Romp, Chomp and Stomp tickets are $10 for adults, while children 10 and under get in for free. Tickets include food and drink and can be purchased in advance online at The tailgate is presented by Bud Light and sponsored by the Missouri Pork Association and Missouri Wines.

Bien said one of the best parts of MU’s Homecoming celebration is its inherent success as alumni are always excited to come back to campus to connect with old friends, and this week a constant “special energy” is ever-present on campus. She said one of her favorite things to do during Homecoming is to simply stop, take a moment and observe campus in its Homecoming state to take it all in.

“The impact of this weekend is everywhere you turn,” Bien said. “… To me, success is measured by how people feel when they leave Columbia. Their Tiger Pride should be re-energized and they should feel better connected to their alma mater. Homecoming is also often a turning point for our students. As the alums leave town Sunday, I hope that current students are able to look around and recognize just how special it is here.”

For a schedule of Homecoming events, go to