Family geared event kicks off week of campus celebrations

By Eric Heisig

While the Illini women’s soccer team was busy playing against Indiana, there was something else that was keeping people’s interest next to the bleachers.

Coinciding with SoccerFest 2007 on Friday, the Student Alumni Ambassadors hosted the Homecoming Kickoff, with activities for students and families.

“We do invite the community and try to draw in the students as well,” said Kelly O’Neill, co-chair for the Homecoming Kickoff celebration and senior in AHS. “We wanted to make everyone happy and celebrate the tradition of Homecoming.”

The crowd was appropriately dressed in blue and orange, wandering around to the different activities. Activities during the kickoff included free food, a moon bounce and bounce house for children, and face painting for everybody. In addition, No Strings Attached and the Xtension Chords, two on-campus a cappella groups, performed during the kickoff.

Mitch Heisler, co-chair for Homecoming Kickoff and sophomore in ACES, said this was the second year the kickoff celebration and SoccerFest took place at the same time.

While all of the activities were popular, most of the children with the families enjoyed the face painting, as well as the members of the UIUC Society of American Archivists.

“I love having the kids here,” said Anna Ma, junior in LAS. “They ask for the craziest things (on their faces).”

Although the only paint colors available for face painting were orange and blue, Ma said children would ask for things like tigers, butterflies and even a gnome.

“One person even asked to have their face painted like a soccer ball,” said Lisa Derus, sophomore in LAS.

Some families said that even though there were a lot of activities going on, many just came to see a good game of soccer.

“These guys (my children) play soccer, and they have been wanting to come to a game,” said Brad Henry, of Pesotum, Ill.

“I’ve just come for the soccer game and the free food,” Kevin May, freshman in LAS, said.

This is just the beginning for some students, though. Some said they plan on attending more than one event to celebrate during the week. There is also the football game, which May said he plans on attending, too.

Derus said she has enjoyed working on the Homecoming Kickoff, just because of the good feeling she gets from working on it.

“It is feeling the joy of spreading Illini spirit throughout everyone’s hearts,” she said.