Hokies celebrate Homecoming virtually
Homecoming is a Hokie pastime rooted in tradition – and this year’s celebration looked unlike any other before.
Still, it didn’t diminish the fun and festivities. Instead of in-person events, alumni and students gathered virtually, celebrating Homecoming for the first time from wherever they are.
This year’s theme was aptly dubbed Blacksburg and Beyond.
"Despite its differences and challenges, this year felt much more intentional and meaningful than year’s past,” Eva Grumbine, the Homecoming Board’s director of programming. “I was surprised at how despite all the differences, it still felt like Homecoming Week. I was also pleasantly surprised at the amount of participation our events received."
The student-led Homecoming Board partners with organizations across campus to carry out a week of Homecoming events, including the university’s Advancement Division to make sure alumni are involved in Homecoming.
This year’s events included a virtual talent show, alumni panel discussion, Hokie Spirit context, concert from The Virginia Tech Union, comedy event from the Black Student Alliance at Virginia Tech, and a Spirit Rally from the Student Alumni Associates of Virginia Tech. Thousands of Hokies engaged both online and in-person adhering to public health guidelines.
Homecoming was even capped by the crowning of three Hokies as Homecoming Royalty during a special, physically distanced ceremony in Lane Stadium the Sunday after Homecoming. It was streamed online and virtually joined by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands.
“The location has such a significant meaning with the royalty announcement," said Kelly Reilly, a senior studying human resources and director of the Homecoming Court. "Virginia Tech instilled in me that traditions, like Homecoming, are important. It would have been devastating to see something like this just not happen because of additional barriers."
For the first time, student events like crowning royalty, Homecomings Got Talent, and the Spirit Rally were all available online, creating a new way for alumni to take part in Homecoming, even if they are far from campus.
"Homecoming this year presented a unique opportunity for alumni to share in some of the student traditions and celebrate without actually being in Blacksburg," said Shaun Grahe, director of student and young alumni engagement. “It was disappointing not to have our alums here in Blacksburg, but they were still able to participate in a meaningful and new way."
For the students who worked on Homecoming this year, the week was the culmination of countless hours of work by dozens of students during the ever-evolving situation since last spring.
"I'm beyond grateful that they took their commitment to be safe and reliable students seriously," Reilly said. "Without their collective spirit, I’m not sure if Homecoming week would have been as successful as it was."