Weber State University students and community members braved dark skies, strong wind and light rain on Monday at The Junction downtown party to celebrate the kickoff of Homecoming Week.
While the tradition used to take place on 25th St. in Ogden, it changed locations last year in order to reach out more to the community.
Cynthia Phelps, programming vice president of WSU, said she hoped the party would instill school pride within Wildcats and the community. She said the party was also a great chance for students to take a night away from the stress of school and their busy lives.
“I think school can sometimes be stressful and exhausting, and students can get burnt out easily,” Phelps said. “The goal (of the party) was to create an atmosphere where students can just come meet some people, where it’s free, where they can relax and spend time with others and just basically have a good time.”
The night started off with people of all ages painting a large W, complete with a purple and white Wildcat logo inside the barricaded four-way stop. Adrienne Gillespie, the director of WSU’s Center for Diversity and Unity, brought her niece Hana for the second year in a row. With paintbrush in hand and a grin on her face, 7-year-old Hana said she was most excited about painting the street.
“She has not talked about anything outside of painting the ‘W,’” she said. “I told her that we may have to leave if it starts raining first, and she said, ‘Auntie, I can’t go without painting the ‘W’!’”
Music and voices echoed through the air during the pep rally that took place, featuring the cheerleaders, Waldo the Wildcat, a drum line and a live DJ.
Tyler Hess, a junior at WSU and drum line section leader, said the pep rally was a blast.
“I thought the DJ was actually pretty cool,” he said. The drum line will also play at the Homecoming Game this Saturday against Idaho State University.
Marysa Salas, a cheerleader and sophomore at WSU who also participated in the pep rally, said she came to help build spirit for the football game.
“It’s the homecoming game, so we really want everyone to be there!” Salas said.
Other activities within Fat Cats and the Salomon Center were free for participants throughout the night, including iRock, Flowrider and bowling. Sophomore Ashtin Hall said she came specifically for iRock and that she loves to rock-climb.
“Rock-climbing takes a lot of strength and endurance,
and it’s calming because you don’t have anyone around you,” Hall said. “I like it at The Junction, but I think its kind of risky having your own belayer, just in case they are not experienced.”
Most of the surrounding restaurants featured discounts for students who mentioned WSU and for those who had their ID cards. A WSU ice-cream booth was also set up, featuring purple ice cream for the price of $1.
One of the anticipated activities of the night was the free showing of Moneyball at Megaplex 13, where almost every seat in the theater was occupied.
Elizabeth Johnson, a junior at WSU, went to the showing and said she loved the movie.
“I like that it was based on a true story,” she said. “It was a good sports movie to get me in the mood for homecoming.”
Sponsors for this activity included the Downtown Ogden Business Association, WSUSA and the Nontraditional Student Center. Many different departments and colleges within WSU contributed to the budget, and a portion also came from the Alumni Association.
Despite the rain and cold temperatures, all of the activities planned for the night were carried out with hundreds in attendance. For more information regarding homecoming week and upcoming activities, students can visit http://www.weber.edu/homecoming.