Tailgating returns for Homecoming Week


Lanie Hibel

Groups of people tailgate with friends and family in Grange Grover before the Illini football game against Nebraska Aug. 31. Multiple Greek life, Athletics, and departmental tailgates will be hosted during the homecoming game against Wisconsin Oct. 9.

By Alex Chang, Staff Writer

Throughout Homecoming Week, multiple departmental tailgates will be scheduled by colleges along with tailgates hosted by Greek life and Illini Athletics.

Homecoming makes a strong return this year after a hiatus put in place by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the University planning to resume as much of the regular homecoming programming as possible. 

For many, Illini Homecoming is one of the biggest events that occurs in the year and was sorely missed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions on social gatherings and social distancing rules eliminated any chance of tailgates, while regulations on athletics eliminated spectators for home games.

This year, the Grange Grove tailgate will begin at 7 a.m. on Saturday and will continue until 3 p.m. Judging by past years, tailgating will most likely continue well throughout the game and after.

High vaccination rates were a primary motivator for the University in allowing Homecoming to be hosted in person this year. With vaccination rates among undergraduates currently above 90%, the University is confident that Homecoming Week can be hosted in a COVID-19 conscious and safe manner.

“Our RSVPs are about the same as years past — folks are looking forward to enjoying the fellowship of their fellow Illini again … Now, thanks to vaccines and testing, we are excited to celebrate Homecoming together once again,” said Department Head of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Paul J. A. Kenis

The athletics tailgate coming back means that the massive crowds and spectacle of Homecoming will return as well. Tents in Grange Grove have already been brought out in preparation for the festivities throughout the week.

“Our annual tailgate may look a little different this year with sanitizer and masks, but we have proven that our sense of community, Illini pride and excitement … is steadfast,” Kenis said.

University colleges hosting tailgates during Homecoming Week include the College of Law and Applied Health Services, which will be hosting tailgates for current students, faculty and alumni.

The College of Law will be hosting its tailgate in Cribber Field on Saturday from noon until 2:30 p.m, directly in front of the law building. Applied Health Services will be hosting its tailgate noon to 3 p.m. in Lot 31, directly west of Grange Grove.

“We are excited to resume our 100 plus year long tradition of Homecoming … Homecoming will be a very busy time for us but for all of us in the University it is a chance to connect with alumni and welcome them back in a way that simply wasn’t possible last year,” Kenis said.


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