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Homecoming at Illinois promises to heat up campus

Jeff Unger, News Bureau


CHAMPAIGN, Ill.— The University Of Illinois will celebrate its 95th annual homecoming the week of Oct. 16.

The week’s activities will include a kickoff celebration at Hessel Park in Champaign, a parade and a lunch on the Quad with athletes and the Homecoming Court. This year’s theme is “Ignite My Illini.”

For a complete schedule of events, visit the Homecoming Web site.

Event highlights:

Oct. 16 (Sunday)
Illini Stride Homecoming 5 kilometer run/walk & children’s fun run, Hessel Park, Champaign. Cost: $10 prior to race; $15 day of race. Register online at; race starts at 11 a.m., fun run at 12:30 p.m. Event benefits the Champaign Unit 4 School District’s “Warm-A-Kid” program.

Homecoming kickoff celebration, noon-2 p.m. (immediately following Illini Stride event), Hessel Park, Champaign. This family-oriented event will feature Illinois athletes, Fighting Illini cheerleaders, music, the Marching Illini drum line, children’s games and activities, a petting zoo and free hot dogs or hamburgers for the first 500 people.

Oct. 17 (Monday)

Homecoming Volunteer Project, 8 a.m.-5 p.m, Anniversary Plaza (behind Illini Union). Volunteers from diverse student organizations will create a mural representing a mix of cultures and people; proceeds benefit Ameren IP’s “Warm a Neighbor” program.

Oct. 18 (Tuesday)
Lunch on the Quad, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost: $5 per person or swipe of residence-hall card.

Event features a cookout, entertainment, U. of I. officials, athletes and the introduction of Homecoming Court.

IUB African-American Homecoming Pageant, 7 p.m., Illini Union Courtyard Café, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana. Cost: $4; tickets on sale at the door. U. of I. students will showcase their talents and their contributions to the campus community in competing for the Illini Union Board’s African-American Homecoming king and queen.

Oct. 19 (Wednesday)
Build for Habitat for Humanity, all day, between Everitt Laboratory and Engineering Hall. The storage shed being constructed by the group’s volunteers will become the organization’s Homecoming float; afterward the shed will go to a Habitat for Humanity site. Onlookers welcome.

Oct. 21 (Friday)
Homecoming parade, 6-7 p.m., starting at Sixth Street and Taft Drive in Champaign, traveling through Campustown and turning south on Mathews Avenue and ending at the Quad, where a pep rally will take place from 7 to 8 p.m.

IUB Homecoming Variety Show, immediately after the pep rally until 10 p.m., Lincoln Hall, 702 S. Wright St., Urbana. Cost: $5.

Oct. 22 (Saturday)
Illinois vs. Penn State Homecoming football game, 6 p.m. Memorial Stadium. Cost: $37 for main stands and balconies, $19 for horseshoe. For ticket information, call toll-free 866-ILLINI-1 or order online at

Three distinguished alumni will return to campus as participants in Homecoming weekend. The alumni will meet with students, discuss their work experiences and participate in Homecoming activities.

The guests:

Andrea Darlas College of Communications, 1994
Darlas is a reporter and evening news anchor at WGN-AM, Chicago. Her career began in Champaign, where she worked as a reporter for two area radio stations.

She contributes to the ABC Radio network, Chicagoland Television, “Metromix, the TV Show,” WGN-TV and She has won two Associated Press awards, two Edward R. Murrow awards and the Illinois Broadcasters Association’s Silver Dome Award for best newscast.

Stuart M. Kaminsky, College of Communications, 1957, College of LAS, 1960
Kaminsky is an acclaimed writer of mystery novels and a former professor of screenwriting and film production. The author of nearly four dozen short stories, he also has written more than 60 published books, including biographies and textbooks. Kaminsky won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel in 1989. Kaminsky taught for 16 years at Northwestern University, where he founded the Program in Creative Writing for the Media. During his six years at Florida State University, he headed the Graduate Conservatory in Film and Television Production.

Ann Davenport McBrien, College of Business, 1982
McBrien is the chief operating officer of OT OverTime LLC, the first line of grooming products developed specifically for teen and “tween” boys. McBrien enjoyed a 19-year career at Procter & Gamble, moving from sales representative to the first female vice president of sales in the company’s history. In 2001 she left P&G to strike out on her own, teaming with a business partner to acquire the OT product line. She started the Illini Comeback program in 1979 and was a founding member of the booster group Illini Pride.