Celebrate Your Retriever Spirit at Homecoming 2023

Published: Oct 6, 2023

musicians play in front of a carnival at homecoming
The Homecoming carnival is a family favorite event. (Marlayna Demond '11/UMBC)

Homecoming this year is full of fun events for canine and human Retrievers alike, whether they’re students, staff, faculty, alumni or friends and family. The week kicks off with the women’s soccer game on October 8, followed by a Maryland-themed dinner event and the Homecoming Bonfire

Homecoming Saturday on October 14 has something for all the good pups on and off campus. While dogs have always been a large part of UMBC’s culture, UMBC has been creating new traditions with its furry friends in the past few years, like the RAC’s new Laps with Officer Chip and the now annual tradition of the Homecoming Puppy Parade. The parade first began in 2016 to celebrate the university’s 50th birthday, but it wasn’t until 2019 that it was brought back to stay. Each Homecoming since then, around one hundred dogs participate, showing that the puppy parade has become a very well-loved tradition for the UMBC community. 

a group of people parade their dogs across campus
The 2019 Puppy Parade kicked off a beloved UMBC tradition. (Marlayna Demond ’11/UMBC)

“I would say that it has become a highlight of Homecoming Saturday,” says Candace Martinez-Doane, the assistant director of student engagement and organizer of the parade. “The participants are alums, students bringing their family pets, and community members who all look forward to coming together and participating in a very cute event.”

Something for Retrievers of all generations

The carnival will open up first as a preview event for students on October 13, and then to the rest of the community on Saturday, October 14. In addition to the rides and games, the day will be full of activities, starting with the Retriever Dawg Chase 5K and Fun Run and ending late that night at the brand new Greek Life Alumni and Friends party. Whether you plan to stop by the Alumni & Friends Tent for snacks, ride the rides and play the carnival games, or just enjoy the food trucks and petting zoo, Homecoming is a great time for bringing Retrievers of all generations together. 

students cheer on athletic teams in black and gold umbc gear
Students cheer on at a soccer game. Photo by Jill Fannon, M.F.A. ’11, for UMBC.

“What’s most exciting about Homecoming is it truly embodies UMBC’s definition of community,” says Jess Wyatt, associate director of Alumni Engagement and one of the event organizers. “Many of the staff who execute the activities throughout the week also bring their family and friends to the big carnival day. It’s become a tradition in so many families including my own! My kids look forward to seeing their ‘Homecoming friends,’ which includes many of my colleagues and their kids.”

Celebrate the achievements of UMBC’s student-athletes and alumni at the Athletics Hall of Fame induction on October 13. And if you love lacrosse but prefer watching it from the stands, join the women’s lacrosse team for a potluck breakfast on October 14. The whole week leading up to the carnival is full of opportunities to cheer on our student-athletes as they take the field. 

students gather together with UMBC gear on on the soccer field
Students gather at a 2023 soccer game. Photo by Jill Fannon, M.F.A. ’11, for UMBC.

Homecoming gives us the chance to celebrate our community of Retrievers off the field as well. GRIT-X Talks features alumni and faculty speakers highlighting compelling aspects of UMBC’s advancements in research and creative achievements. Keep an eye out for social events throughout the week, like the Deans and Donuts mix-and-mingle in the Sports Zone or other affinity group meet-ups.

A PAWsitively BARKING good time

And of course, around 1 p.m. on October 14, start listening for “Who Let the Dogs Out” and watch as dogs and their owners proudly display their costumes and UMBC pride to everyone on Erickson Field. After the parade, winners of the costume contest will be chosen in four categories: most UMBC spirit, most creative, best owner and pet combo, and best overall. 

a dog smiles at the camera wearing a gold umbc scarf
Pups take centerstage at Homecoming. (Marlayna Demond ’11/UMBC)

“The spirit and joy that the puppy parade brings to the participants and spectators is really special,” says Martinez-Doane. “It’s such an adorable event that speaks to the uniqueness that is UMBC.”

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