A love letter to Homecoming

Published: Oct 27, 2023

Two individuals stand smiling indoors wearing gray UMBC Homecoming t-shirts.
(Photo by Jill Fannon for UMBC)

When you think about UMBC’s Homecoming, you undoubtedly conjure images of carnival rides, black and gold decorations, and the beloved Puppy Parade. But what Homecoming is really about, for us, is the people. We asked social media intern Allison John ‘24, psychology, to share what it was like to walk a mile (or more accurately, many, many miles) in her shoes during this year’s Homecoming. 

We always hope the skies will be blue and the sun will be shining for UMBC’s Homecoming, but that unfortunately wasn’t the case this year. Luckily, that did not stop students, alumni, family, and friends from taking part in all the festivities that Homecoming brings! This year I was lucky to not only partake as a student, but also as a board member of UMBC’s Student Events Board (seb), and as an intern for University Communications and Marketing (UCM). Being involved in all these roles meant I got to see Homecoming through a different lens. 

As a student, I loved going to the carnival with all my friends on Homecoming preview night. We enjoyed all the different rides, played carnival games, and took in the moments knowing that college goes by so quickly and if we don’t cherish it while we’re here, it’ll be gone before we notice. 

Nighttime shot of carnival ride with swings lit up vibrantly against a night sky
Homecoming preview night is a great time to get a sneak peek of what the weekend will bring! (Photo by Max Franz for UMBC)

Helping co-create Homecoming

As a board member of (seb), I loved getting involved with activities that I may not have participated in otherwise. I got the chance to interact with all the amazing vendors we had, ranging from the petting zoo and food trucks, to the balloon and caricature artists. This role allowed me to create amazing memories for so many people and to play a part in the magic that happens on campus during Homecoming. I even got the chance to ride around campus on golf carts, placing the huge Homecoming stickers on the sidewalk that always amazed me when I was a first-year student.

Children painting pumpkins indoors at a long table.
Families had a great time decorating pumpkins and making them their own! (Photo by Erika Nizborski for UMBC)

By far, my favorite role of all was the role I played as a UCM intern. I had the opportunity to capture memories throughout Homecoming weekend by taking pictures at the Puppy Parade and seeing all the festive dogs that got to partake in such a fun tradition. I also had the opportunity to explore the Alumni and Friends Tent and meet so many alumni and witness them reconnecting with old friends and talking about how much has changed since they graduated. 

A Chesapeake Bay Retriever mascot kneels down to pet a chocolate lab while it licks him, wearing a UMBC Homecoming shirt
True Grit and Chip feeling all the love (for each other) at Homecoming Hype. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC)

Being a senior now, I got emotional throughout Homecoming weekend. I know that although I can always come back for Homecoming, this was the last time I had the chance to make an impact on the UMBC community as a student and help create the special memories that Homecoming is all about. Homecoming is truly a culmination of so many different events including the annual bonfire, Athletics games, the 5k run, Puppy Parade, carnival, food trucks, pumpkin painting, the Alumni and Friends Tent, and so much more. 

As I took the time to reflect on Homecoming, I came to realize that, at its core, Homecoming is about one thing—you. It’s about your story and how UMBC has played a part in that story. Homecoming is so special because it brings so many people together in one place to reconnect, and whether it’s been one year since you graduated or 30, there are still so many memories to be made at Homecoming. 

Woman in a black shirt wearing a face mask painting the face of a young child with paints and paper towels visible
Face painting fun during Homecoming 2023. Photo by Erika Nizborski for UMBC.

During my time talking to alumni, our conversations would always lead to me learning more about how college played a role in who they are now. Some told me about lessons that they learned while attending UMBC, and I even learned about one alum who met her fiancé here. It’s these lessons and memories that make us who we are. Homecoming is what reminds us every year how special these moments are and why we should take a break from the chaos of life and enjoy the people that surround us. Homecoming 2023 was one to remember because it’s a reminder that even the weather can’t put a damper on the importance and strength of a community, our UMBC community.

By Allison John ’24, psychology

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