Behind-the-scenes look at Homecoming planning
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Sunday, October 21, 2012 15:10
In nine days, UCF students and alumni will come together to celebrate their experiences as a Knight during one of the most anticipated events of the year: Homecoming Week.
For many of them, being a Knight means waiting all year for the one opportunity to break the rules and jump into the Reflecting Pond for an afternoon pep rally complete with customized rubber ducks and free T-shirts.
For the students on the Homecoming executive board, the week’s events are a compilation of eight months of brainstorming, planning and preparing. Starting in February, the executive board members start coming up with new ideas for making that year’s Homecoming better than the last. In 2011, Spirit Splash won the best campus tradition award by the National Association of Campus Activities, raising the bar for this year’s event.
“I’m planning a lot of new things this year to get the students excited and hopefully surprised,” said Jason Avola, Spirit Splash director.
Avola, a senior health sciences major, said this year’s Spirit Splash will be full of “flair and action” and is hoping that the infamous “splash rash” won’t make its way to the festivities.
“We are working with UCF to make sure the pond gets drained, cleaned and well-chlorinated before the event so people don’t get sick,” Avola said. “I think the [colder] weather and the amount of people [in the water] have a lot to do with it, too.”
This year, Spirit Splash is being held on Nov. 2 and festivities begin at 1 p.m. Students will be allowed in the Reflecting Pond at 2 p.m.
Aryn Gallaher, student director of Homecoming, said the other event students are most excited about is Concert Knight. Last year’s artists, Lupe Fiasco, Panic! at the Disco and Eric Hutchinson, drew in large numbers, but this year, the Homecoming board is expecting even more people to attend. This year’s artist, Snoop Dogg, will be performing on Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. in the UCF Arena and was actually the team’s second choice for headliners.
“We were looking into bringing Ke$ha,” Gallaher said. “Unfortunately, that isn’t happening, but that’s who we really wanted.”
Eight thousand concert tickets will be distributed to students in advance, but tickets will also be available for pickup on the day of the event.
Snoop Dogg will be performing his classic hits including “Gin and Juice” and “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and Gallaher would like students to know that his new persona – Snoop Lion – will not be in attendance.
“I believe people are really going to enjoy this. His music is known by older alumni and current students, so it’s going to be a good time,” Michael Preston, director of the Office of Student Involvement, said. “He was cool when I was in school and that was a while ago.”
The cost to bring Snoop Dogg as the headliner is $100,000, a quarter of the entire week’s $400,000 budget. UCF is also expected to fulfill requests on a rider provided by the artist. After reviewing the contract and rider, there were quite a few things that Gallaher had to deny the artist.
“He requested room for his crew that he calls the ‘Snoopadelics,’ which is fine, but he also had a long list of liquors, which we can’t do,” Gallaher said.
According to the rider, Snoop Dogg requested bottles of Grey Goose Vodka, Patron and champagne as well as inexpensive red and white wine.
Among the list of requests, Snoop wanted the green room, which is expected to be labeled “DOGG,” stocked with watermelon-flavored Hubba Bubba Bubblegum, grape soda, cranberry juice and chicken. He also requested to have transportation provided for himself and his six Snoopadelics to Popeyes, McDonalds or Waffle House after the show, which Gallaher also denied. Transportation to and from the airport alone is costing the university $700. In total, Snoop is travelling with a crew of up to 32 people, including dancers, friends and assistants.
In some instances, the executive board members have had the opportunity to be the person driving artists to and from campus.
“Last year I got to take Bo Burnham to the airport, so that was cool,” Gallaher said.
Although the executive board members get to meet and take pictures with many of the artists they bring to campus, they aren’t doing it for the perks.
“We do this for [the students],” said Arianthi Then, Skit Knight director. “We plan this for almost nine months and we dedicate our time to this. It’s not for ourselves.”
“We are usually working so hard during events that we don’t get to enjoy them. The best event is Spirit Splash because we get to sit back, throw T-shirts into the crowd and watch people having fun,” Gallaher said.