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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UAAA talks about HoCo mall tailgating traditions

    Alex McIntyre

    After a week full of Homecoming festivities, students, faculty and alumni plan to gather for tailgates prior to the Homecoming football game Saturday. The day kicks off with the parade and tailgates to amp UA students, faculty and alumni up before the game at 1 p.m. 

    “Every year, we do what’s known as Tents on the Mall, which is only on Homecoming, and it’s anything from Cherry Avenue west towards Old Main,” said Jill Hall, vice president of alumni engagement and innovations, and an ’88 alumnus, said.

    Although students, alumni and the community gather to tailgate before every home game at the UA, Tents on the Mall is a unique event.

    “Some of the tents that are set up are not there at the other games, so that’s kind of a new thing to be able to do for Homecoming,” said Richard Orozco from the UA class of ’89. 

    The UA Alumni Association hosts the yearly Wildcat for Life Tailgate Party, a free event which anyone can attend.

    According to Hall, the Alumni Association tries its best to keep alumni returning to the event each year to maintain the community feel that the UA offers. 

    “I think the [UA] has a natural family feeling when you first come onto campus, so it’s kind of that feeling that makes it special,” Hall said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to a senior, if you’re talking to someone that’s 35 years old or if you’re talking to someone that’s 85. You can talk about Old Main, you can talk about Dirtbag’s or you can talk about football games [and] basketball.”

    Tailgating is a big part of Homecoming at the UA because many generations of Wildcats return to their college stomping grounds each year for these events.

    “People want to be able to come back when they’re able to, and Homecoming gives them a good excuse to come back,” Hall said.
    Orozco said he appreciates the sense of community Homecoming creates.

    “I really enjoy seeing all the people at the Homecoming game,” Orozco said. “Different colleges have different tents, so I like being able to go to the different tents.”

    Since Tents on the Mall has grown into such a defining event for Homecoming weekend, Hall said certain groups reserve their spots far in advance. 

    “People have been reserving spots year after year, so mostly the colleges and some of the fraternities and sororities will contact us, say they want to reserve the space and pay for the space and the tent,” Hall said. “They can get a tent that’s just a 10-by-10 little pop-up, or they can get something really extravagant that’s 40-by-60 [and fits] 400 people under it.”

    Every year, the Alumni Association sees large families returning for milestones or family gatherings. 

    “So if grandma and grandpa are having their 50-year reunion, then all the kids will come back and participate in those things with them,” Hall said. “We get those every year. Grandma was Homecoming Queen and grandpa was on football, so [the whole family] will come back for all the different parties. … It’s pretty cool.”
    In addition to alumni, students and families, Hall said the UA faculty involves itself in many Homecoming weekend activities. 

    “We have an Alumni of the Year awards ceremony on Friday, so a lot [of faculty] have a guest if they happen to be entertaining somebody that’s getting honored,” she said. “They’ll bring them to lunch, or they take them to their different tents. There’s an engineering tent, an Eller College tent, a College of Education tent, so some of them will go to those tents or they can come with us.”

    Even for people who aren’t involved in Greek Life or an organized group to tailgate with, the Alumni Association welcomes anyone to its tent hosting the Wildcat for Life Tailgate Party. 

    According to Hall, this year’s Wildcat for Life Tailgate Party consists of an assembly of food trucks, various yard games, a photo booth, tables, chairs, a tent and a DJ.

    “That’s the beauty of the Wildcat for Life Tailgate Party—that it’s open to everybody,” she said. “We’ve added the Food Truck Village, so we’re bringing in about 10 food trucks to line up so people can just grab something to eat, pop a squat, watch the parade and move down and wander around.”

    Follow Emma Jackson on Twitter.

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