Restrictions from COVID-19 have significantly changed Homecoming festivities scheduled at the University of Mount Olive.
Instead of in-person hugs and freeze-frame photo ops with cell phone cameras, the 2020 celebration — a six-day event that started Monday — is in virtual format.
University officials insist the “fun will go on.”
“Homecoming is a tradition that we value for many reasons,” said Jason M. Gipe, vice president for institutional advancement. “It’s an opportunity for our alumni to gather and come ‘home’ to remember experiences they had during their time as a student.
“Although this year’s Homecoming may look different, it presents a unique opportunity for us to explore new avenues of communications and programming for our alumni. While we wish we could gather in person, we hope to offer great ways to engage with each other [and] continue to build pride in UMO.”
Newly-appointed UMO President Dr. Ed Croom will deliver a Founder’s Day message honoring the institution’s past and glance into the future.
Alumni can participate in virtual meetings that will discuss healthcare, health insurance, purchasing a home and financial planning. Those messages will be available daily at noon.
Kornegay Arena will not be filled with student-athletes and spectators for the 55th edition of the Pickle Classic, the coronation of the Pickle King and Queen and introduction of the 16th class of UMO Athletics Hall of Fame enshrines.
Athletic department officials haven’t relinquished hope about hosting the two-day event and honoring an induction class, but did not have any definitive details in place as of press time.
Amy Whitman, a 2009 UMO grad, said that both alumni and non-alumni can participate in the annual Trojan Trot 5K.
“Anyone from anywhere can join and participants can run their race, and log their times throughout the week,” said Whitman, who is assistant director of alumni relations.
A virtual watch party is scheduled to relive UMO’s run to the 2008 NCAA Division II College World Series championship.