The year 2020 has been full of many disappointments caused by the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the earth.
The cancellation of America’s Greatest Centennial Homecoming created a major disappointment and dilemma for Oklahoma State.
Due to the virus, OSU will not be hosting a 2020 homecoming -- its 100th homecoming -- which was scheduled for this weekend. Instead, the centennial celebration has been shifted to 2021, the result of a difficult decision made by the Alumni Association Board of Directors in collaboration with Oklahoma State University, the OSU athletic department, OSU Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, and the City of Stillwater.
This decision was made with the health and safety of the OSU community in mind.
“OSU’s nationally recognized homecoming event is entirely student-run, and several measures have been put in place for the fall 2020 semester to protect students both on and off-campus,” said Rob McInturf, Alumni Association president. “These measures are vital to our students’ well-being, and we did not want to compromise their health for the Homecoming experience.
"America’s Greatest Homecoming is worth the wait.”
The Alumni Association decided that since many of the homecoming events are not ticketed, such as Walkaround, Homecoming and Hoops, Hester Street Painting, and the Sea of Orange Parade, they would be incapable of safely monitoring social distancing or capacity levels at these events.
Since all of these events are considered essential to a true OSU homecoming experience, particularly a 100th celebration, the decision was made that it was best to postpone until all festivities could be celebrated to the fullest extent.
“It was a very difficult decision, one that we spent a lot of time considering,” said Chase Carter, Alumni Association director of marketing and engagement. "We wanted to make sure the health and safety of students and alumni and everyone participating in homecoming came first.
“We want to make sure that the centennial can be celebrated in a way that's representative of the tradition as a whole. We didn't want to host a centennial event where we would have to limit the number of people who could attend, student interaction, and make sure the centennial could be celebrated to the fullest and that's why the decision was made to postpone the centennial until 2021."
The absence of America’s Greatest Homecoming will be felt by students and the Cowboy community. The Greek community will be seriously impacted since houses pair together to produce the decks that are a long-standing tradition.
Sarah Beth Henderson, vice president of administration of Panhellenic Council, said, “It’s unfortunate that homecoming was canceled because it is a great opportunity for chapter members to spend time with one another and create relations with their pairings. It is, however, allowing students to be creative and find new ways to create those relationships without pomping and other homecoming festivities.”
Though the absence of a traditional homecoming will be noticed this fall, the Alumni Association’s Homecoming executive team has worked to create Pokes Palooza, a week of events intended to bring the Cowboy community together.
“Pokes Palooza was created to bring us all together in such a time of uncertainty,” said Clarissa Ratzlaff, executive director for homecoming. “I personally believe this week heavily embodies what it means to be a Cowboy: picking yourself up, getting back in the saddle, and making the best out of a challenging time.”