Illinois Homecoming: Nostalgia Is in the Air

There’s so much excitement in the air for the University of Illinois’ homecoming! As university graduates ourselves at Visit Champaign County, we understand the excitement all too well. Homecoming as students was an event filled week with so much school spirit, one would think that nothing else mattered in that moment. It was a time to let loose from the daily grind and throw yourself in a crowd full of people who were just as excited and passionate about your university or college. I did not attend the University of Illinois, but I too will be making the journey back to my alma mater, just as thousands of other Illinois graduates will make their way back to Champaign County. We at Visit Champaign County are thrilled that this flourishing event brings so many travelers to our amazing micro-urban oasis.  It just so happens that two of our staff members, Terri Reifsteck (Vice President of Marketing) and Jayne DeLuce (President & CEO), attended the University of Illinois and are incredibly proud of their alma mater.

Pondering my very own memories this week of Homecoming, I wanted to share some Illinois memories in hopes that you will do the same!

I think my favorite Homecoming was actually while I was still in school. I was a freshman in the Marching Illini and at the Homecoming Parade, we were joined by over 100 alumni members that were recent graduates or had been gone from the University for 30+ years. I marveled at seeing how easily these former band members fit right back into the culture of the band, joining in on cheers during the parade and the next day during pre-game and halftime at the football game. I knew then that the Marching Illini was a special group and would be a part of me forever and there isn't a day that I hear "run-on" that doesn't get my heart pumping.

-Terri Reifsteck

Jayne had a toss-up between two of her fondest memories and wanted to share both:

“Co-chairing the 75th 'Cheers to the Years' Homecoming celebration in 1985—Our committee worked hard to bridge the past traditions with new traditions and it was a crazy, absolute blast week long celebration.  We were rebels and decided to use non-orange and blue colors on the button, so it would stand out for the 75th year.  Yes, we were living on the edge in the mid-80's.”

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Collecting Homecoming buttons—Yes, I'm that nerd, started when I was at UI, maybe beforehand.  Even when I moved to Florida and Georgia, I'd always make arrangements to get a button - and one for my mom!  I was president of the South Florida Alumni Club, and one year, I purchased a bunch and had them shipped to Fort Lauderdale, so we could wear them proudly in SEC country.  Also while I was in college, I thoroughly enjoyed selling them at area Rotary, Kiwanis and other service clubs, along with Quarterback Club.  Very cool to see everyone wearing the buttons.

-Jayne DeLuce

We hope this encourages all of you alum out there to take the time and relish in once was and to keep on creating memories with your alma mater! We would love to hear your best Illinois Homecoming stories on our Facebook Page. While you’re out, be sure to take pictures of the events and festivities and post them with #CUinFall and tag us @visitchampaign on Twitterand Instagram! See you there!


-Cody Dees