CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Homecoming Week at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign takes place Oct. 9-15, featuring an appearance by Illinois alumnus and Chicago sports announcer Gene Honda as the parade grand marshal.
The Homecoming parade takes place Friday, Oct. 14, at 5:30 p.m. The new parade route begins at the corner of Fourth Street and Kirby Avenue, turns at Gregory Drive and continues west to First Street, where it curls south toward Grange Grove at Memorial Stadium.
A 1978 Illinois graduate and a member of the Triangle Fraternity, Honda is the public address announcer for the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Blackhawks. He is a 2022 recipient of the Lou Liay Spirit Award, presented to those who have consistently demonstrated extraordinary spirit and pride in support of the university, the Alumni Association and related organizations.
“When I showed up on campus in 1972, I wanted to be an engineer,” Honda told Illinois Alumni magazine in 2019. “That was the year of my best GPAs, but it didn’t feel right. Not good enough at math. I switched to finance before finding my way to WPGU, the University’s radio station, and going down the rabbit hole to my future.”
Honda’s resume includes not only the aforementioned Chicago professional sports teams, but also DePaul Blue Demons basketball, the Big Ten Tournament and the Final Four, and duties at WTTW-TV, Chicago’s PBS station. “Not to mention a special favorite of mine, Fighting Illini football,” he said.
Immediately following the Homecoming parade, the WITH I Campaign Close event will begin at 6 p.m. in Grange Grove. University alumni, donors, faculty members, staff, students and community members are invited to celebrate the close of With Illinois, hailed by administrators as the university’s most successful and ambitious fundraising campaign to date. The event is free to the public and includes free food, games, music and other entertainment featuring a sky show and performance by the Marching Illini at 8 p.m.
“The generosity and the confidence of thousands of alumni, friends and corporate partners allowed us to exceed our goal of $2.25 billion a year ahead of schedule, and at a time when many people said it was impossible,” Chancellor Robert Jones said regarding With Illinois. “Our Illinois community has provided a foundation for the next century of ‘impossible’ achievements that will come from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.”
Homecoming Week begins Sunday, Oct. 9, with the eighth annual Homecoming 5K race from Anniversary Plaza to the Alice Campbell Alumni Center. Registration opens at 9 a.m. and the race begins at 10 a.m. The event will be followed by a Homecoming kickoff celebration featuring food, drinks, the Marching Illini, a pancake breakfast and the annual ceremonial dyeing orange of the fountain near Hallene Gateway.
Events for students and the community throughout the week include a student dinner on the Quad, the Global Talent Show, Saturday Night Live: Homecoming Edition in downtown Champaign and two concerts at State Farm Center featuring Neon Trees and Ludacris.
Homecoming Week concludes with the Fighting Illini men’s football game against Minnesota on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Memorial Stadium.
View the full list of events, more details and visitor guides on the Homecoming 2022 website.