When the time eventually comes to pack up your Athens apartment or home for the last time, it’s a pain like no other to leave this Appalachian town. As sad as it can be driving away from Court Street, it’s never your last. Luckily, you have Homecoming to relive all your glory days and a visit each year to look forward to.
It’s the crowded time of year that students and faculty welcome back all those who came before us — inviting them back home, even if for a brief weekend. As one of the biggest events of the year, the high attendance and excited energy show just how special Athens has always been.
Above all, Homecoming shows how much OU is missed after the party is over, how people are willing to travel any distance if it means coming home again, how your “last time” is never truly the last. Taking place between Oct. 4 and Oct. 9, Homecoming is a time for alumni to relive your years on the bricks.
Here’s your bucket list for homecoming weekend:
Walk through College Green
It’s no secret that OU has one of the most beautiful campuses around. Start off the weekend going back to your roots with a stroll through College Green. Bask in the days of walking to the library and having a brief, blissful moment on the Green.
As one of the most historic spots on campus, it’s home to three of OU’s oldest buildings: Cutler, McGuffery and Wilson, as well as the Kissing Circle and Templeton-Blackburn Memorial Auditorium. Today, you can see students walking to and from classes, hammocking between the trees or hanging out with friends under the shade.
The fall foliage will be simply breathtaking with the Athens leaves showing off all their beauty, making your walk this year all the more memorable. Grab a buddy, and take a walk through the Alumni Class Gateway before hitting the bricks on Court Street.
Go to the football game
After grabbing a coffee from Court Street Coffee or Brenen’s Coffee Cafe, head over to Peden Stadium to watch OU’s Homecoming game against Central Michigan on Oct. 9. Since kick off starts at 3:30 p.m., you have the perfect time to tailgate with all the other alumni in the parking lot beforehand if you so please.
Attending the football game makes for a perfectly well-rounded Homecoming experience. Meet alumni from near and far for Gameday and, of course, the Marching 110.
Admission for students is free. Admission for the general public is $30 to $40.
Drink a Junction Punch
Nothing says “I’m a well-seasoned alumni” like ordering a Junction Punch from The J Bar. While it’s a drink only the alumni know, it's still a drink featured on their menu. If you’re lucky, “Pump It Up” by Endo will be playing in the background.
Loaded with vodka, rum, gin, grenadine and sprite, it’s a concoction that’s sure to bring you a nostalgic buzz. Wash down the Hawaiian Punch flavor with a refreshing Rumple Mintz shot. Don’t ask questions — just order it.
Wave to Pumpkin the Cat
Unpopular opinion: Pumpkin is more of a OU mascot than Rufus the Bobcat. Over the years, Pumpkin has become the cutest local celebrity that greets visitors and all that pass by the Athens County Board of Elections. In 2013, Athens County Board of Elections Director Debbie Quivey offered to take on Pumpkin as a rescue pet.
Since then, the orange kitty has made quite a popular reputation for itself, with an Instagram following of 5,000 and merchandise featuring his face. The Ohio University Athletics even showed the love by changing their profile picture from one with the OU logo to a photo of Pumpkin hissing.
There’s no question that Pumpkin is certainly adorable with his bean bag-like build. You can always find him sunbathing in the window of the Board of Elections office of Court Street.
Get a slice at Courtside Pizza
After all of your activities throughout the long day, you’ll surely be hungry at some point. Visit an old fave to fill up before you head out for the night. During homecoming, the most important things that can make or break your experience is to hydrate and refuel.
Grab a big water bottle from Valero gas station and head over to Courtside Pizza for a slice of fresh, hot pizza. If you’re looking to sober up, grab two slices. Surprisingly, the heavy dose of grease will actually help you in the end. For the full C-Side experience, don’t forget to wash it down with your favorite domestic beer.
Grab a sweatshirt from College BookStore
You never can have enough. While you might tell yourself to refrain from the bookstore this year because you “have too many,” just give in and grab the oversized, ribbed pastel OU crewneck. A new sweatshirt from your favorite place is sure to keep you comfy throughout the colder months.
There’s sure to at least be a few sales that may catch your eye! If not, grab a $7.77 comfy T-shirt. It’s still a nice momentum to keep in your shirt rotation.
Wrap up your night at Souvlaki’s Mediterranean
You’ll be hungry again, trust us. Court Street might seem small, but between bar hopping and strolling around campus all day, you’re due to be starving once your night ends, or you’ll just be craving some of Athens’ finest drunk food: Souvlaki’s. Directly behind The J Bar, Souvlaki’s has become a delicacy to all drunk students on their way home from Court Street.
Familiar or not, it’s an absolute must, and your night isn’t complete until you take a bite of a cheeseball. Sit in a booth with your friends or family and debrief the night while you wait for your order number to be called; there’s no better feeling than being handed your little greasy brown bag of food. Although you might regret eating it in the morning, it’s always worth it in the moment.