ECU cheerleaders celebrate a previous homecoming by participiating in the parade.

Homecoming events at East Carolina University began on Sunday and are continuing until Saturday, and students are participating in a variety of activities to celebrate their annual display of Pirate pride.

The theme for homecoming this year is “Cirque de Pirates,” according to ECU’s website. Activities on the agenda included a banner competition on Oct. 22, and will include a homecoming parade and float competition on Oct. 26 at 9 a.m. along Fifth Street with the ECU football game as well, where the homecoming king and queen will be announced, according to the website.

Chair of the Homecoming Committee and senior elementary education major Nina Chiha said there are new events this year. New events include the Amazing race, Cirque de Pirates, a blood drive and a game night, she said.

Non-Spirit cup events and Spirit cup events are planned for this year, Chiha said in an interview prior to Cannonball. On Sunday, Cannonball was hosted downtown which hadn’t been done before. At Cannonball, Jojo and B.o.B performed and the homecoming court was announced, she said.

Chiha said it was important to focus on making homecoming week about more than just the spirit cup competition. She said she wanted to make the week inclusive so students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community would be able to get involved in homecoming.

“What I love about Cannonball is we’re taking it out of campus and putting it in the community. So we’re showing that our East Carolina pride is so strong not only campus but in this community, ” Chiha said. “And the fact that we’re able to celebrate and showcase our pirate pride in the community and not just on campus, I think shows how strong the student body, staff, administration and alumni are and I’m super excited for that.”

On Monday, the Student Activities Board (SAB) gave out homecoming t-shirts for students to tie-dye at a film screening of The Greatest Showman, she said in an interview prior to the screening.

On Tuesday, the Homecoming Committee along with SAB hosted the Amazing Race, where students searched for clues on campus and had the opportunity to win a $100 gift card, Chiha said. Wednesday’s event was the skit night which was an event that was part of the Spirit Cup, she said in an interview prior to the Amazing Race.

“Amazing Race is new, we’ve never done that before, Cirque de pirates is a new event, blood drive is a new event, game night is a new event,” Chiha said.

Today, the Blood Drive will be held in the Main Campus Student Center room 125 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students who donate blood can receive free Jimmy Johns and Smashed Waffles, Chiha said. There is also a canned food drive where students compete to collect the most amount of cans to donate, she said.

Tomorrow, Freeboot Friday will be held at Five Points Plaza at 5 p.m. and student game night will be hosted in Joyner Library from 6 to 10 p.m., Chiha said. On Saturday, organizations competing in the spirit cup will have their floats in the homecoming parade which will begin at Walcott elementary school and go to Fifth Street to Reade Street in front of Sup Dogs, she said.

The homecoming football game will begin at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, Chiha said. At the game homecoming queen and king will be announced along with the Spirit Cup winners, she said.

Matt Donnelly, a bartender at Club 519, who was scheduled to work the day of Cannonball, said their bar and other businesses around downtown Greenville were looking forward to the increased business and ability to participate in the events.

“We expected it to be really busy because of the concert and it (Cannonball) brought a lot of people to the downtown area, which we appreciate,” Donnelly said.

Artists B.O.B. and JoJo kicked off the week of celebration at Cannonball, a free concert held downtown at the intersection of Fifth Street and Cotanche Street from to 7 p.m., according to Taylor Chappell, ECU Student Government Association (SGA) vice president.

Chappell said Cannonball this year featured the homecoming concert in association with the Downtown Merchants Association, so businesses downtown would be open for the event for students. She said this is different than in previous years.

The top five queens and top five kings for homecoming court were also announced at Cannonball, according to Chappell.

Chappell said any organizations were able to participate in the banner competition this year who wanted to, but there are certain organizations that normally have involvement in the competition every year.

“Typically it’s organizations within Greek Life or ECU Ambassadors or other big organizations on campus who have a presence, but it’s open to anyone that wants to participate,” Chappell said.

Chappell said banners for the banner competition, not including painting supplies, were provided by ECU this year to prevent any monetary hindrance and increase student participation.

Participation in homecoming court was higher this year than normal, according to Chappell, excluding some organizations who are participating but did not nominate candidates.

“On homecoming court, I know as of right now, there were 18 male and female candidates I believe, that general amount, and typically there is only maybe 12,” Chappell said.

Hannah Jeffries, homecoming court nominee and Alpha Gamma Delta sorority member, said her inspiration for running for homecoming court came from her involvement in her sorority.

“I think I really just wanted to represent something that had been a part of my college career, my sorority obviously has played a huge role in that, so I really wanted to represent them as a person and all of the values that they stand for,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries said her goal is to be a spokesperson for Alpha Gamma Delta and communicate its beliefs about how a member of their sorority should behave.

Greek life has largely impacted her life at ECU, Jeffries said. She said she hopes to win to gain positive recognition for her sorority.

“I wanted to encompass everything that we stand for and be a symbol to our community at ECU,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries said the winners of homecoming court do receive a monetary amount which will be divided evenly between the king’s organization and the queen’s organization.

According to ECU’s website, the Student Homecoming Committee awards a “spirit cup” and $1,000 to the organization with the most points after homecoming. Points are awarded through the float competition, banner competition, skits and the canned food drive. There are also 100 points awarded to an organization for each finalist on the homecoming court and an additional 100 points for each winner of the king and queen competition.

Jeffries said the duties of the homecoming court includes riding on their designated floats and accepting the crown at the football game on Saturday if they are awarded the title.

On the day of the homecoming football game, the homecoming candidates will attend the parade and ride on their floats, according to Jeffries. She said the top five candidates for king and queen will meet on the field during halftime to announce the winners.

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