ECU homecoming

East Carolina University students wait in line to receive a free “Back to ECU” homecoming T-shirt at the university’s Cannonball Kickoff event on Sept. 27.

After two years without in-person homecoming events, East Carolina University students and community members continue to celebrate their Pirate spirit this week with the homecoming theme “Back to ECU” through various university events and programs that will take place throughout the community.

Homecoming Committee Chair Savannah Boyd said Homecoming Week will continue to host various Spirit Week Competitions for student organizations to participate in, as well as student activities for all students on campus. The banner competition took place on Sept. 27 and a skit night on Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. She said other events include the Canned Food Drive on Oct. 1 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the parade on Oct. 2 at 9 a.m.

The Cannonball Kickoff took place on Sept. 27 from 5 to 8 p.m. and on Sept. 29 the Scavenger Hunt began at 8 a.m. and the Pirate Pride T-shirt Swap will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Boyd said students can also look forward to attending the homecoming game on Oct. 2 at 3:30 p.m.

“Homecoming Week is just a chance to reflect on how grateful we are as students to have all these different resources on campus and how we can celebrate these resources and celebrate ECU and be a Pirate and be proud to be a Pirate,” Boyd said. “Whether that be coming to these events, going to the football game, going to the parade, like all these events are for everybody.”

Homecoming Week’s theme “Back to ECU” is a celebration of the in-person return to the Pirate community, Boyd said, and all events will be held outside with the proper safety precautions in place and without mask mandates to bring back a sense of normalcy. She said new programs created by the committee include the Pirate Pride T-shirt Swap and the scavenger hunt on campus.

The committee made an effort to involve the local community throughout Homecoming Week, Boyd said, and community members will have the opportunity to be involved through events such as skit night and the canned food drive.

“This pandemic hit us hard, and we want everybody to know that our community is strong, and we can get through this,” Boyd said. “So, ‘Back to ECU’ really represents that ideal.”

Student Government Association (SGA) President Chandler Ward said he’s excited for the return of an in-person homecoming after two years without any major in-person events. He said SGA fully funds Homecoming Week, and the organization will have representatives as judges for each event panel, as well as sponsor and award the winner of Captain of the Ship with a $1,000 educational opportunity.

Ward said thus far there has been great student turnout for in-person campus events like Pirate Palooza and Student Convocation and he expects students will bring the same energy for homecoming events too. He said he’s especially excited for the community involvement throughout the week that will take place through events like the Homecoming Parade and skit night, which will take place at Town Commons.

Students haven’t had many opportunities to show school spirit due to the pandemic, Ward said, and Homecoming Week gives them the chance to celebrate the Pirate community and what it has to offer. He said programs like Captain of the Ship are new to ECU and he’s excited to see other new events created by the Homecoming Committee.

“The narrative for this year has been the return of Pirate Nation, and I think this is another example of that, showing ECU’s commitment to try to deliver on the student experience that makes this place so special,” Ward said. “I think this was a completely different university, obviously, without all these events. So, really great to see students getting involved and being back on campus and being a part of these organizations that put on these events.”

Tyree Rubin, Main Campus Pirate Pride T-shirt Swap lead and member of the Homecoming Committee, said the committee is excited to show ECU’s campus and community the variety of events they have planned for throughout the week. He said the committee has spent a lot of time in preparation for Homecoming Week and has bonded throughout their planning.

The Pirate Pride T-shirt Swap is a new program created by the committee, Rubin said, and students have the opportunity to help out the community by donating any college shirt in exchange for Pirate gear. There will be another Pirate Pride T-shirt Swap specifically for the Health Sciences Campus on Oct. 1 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

“I think as a committee, what we’re most excited about is just going out there and showing the Pirate Nation all of our ideas that we have come up with. We’re trying to be like, ‘Hey, this is what we have, we hope you like this,’” Rubin said. “We have so many different events planned, a good variety and then smaller things planned for students.”

Chancellor Philip Rogers said he continues to look forward to Homecoming Week celebrations that are set to take place. Alumni and community members are encouraged to celebrate back on campus as well, Rogers said, and he’s excited to see the energy the campus brings throughout the week.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the community of the importance of being together in celebration, Rogers said, and the traditional format will include in-person celebrations alongside the parade and football game. Rogers said he hopes to see all generations of Pirates involved throughout Homecoming Week in celebration of ECU’s mission and values.

“I think it gives me a lot of joy to walk around the mall and see alumni, and community members, and students, and faculty and staff,” Rogers said. “It brings together every different faucet of Pirate Nation to celebrate the university that we love.”

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