Students show joy for first ‘normal’ Homecoming Parade since COVID-19


Rob Le Cates

Alpha Psi Lambda President Luis Paniagua, a senior graphic major, hands candy to six-year-old Emma Turner during the 2022 Homecoming Parade in downtown Charleston at the Square Saturday morning.

Katja Benz, Student Government Reporter

Eastern’s Homecoming Day kicked off with a parade at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.

A variety of organizations brought floats, made signs, threw candy and walked in the parade to show support for Eastern along the parade route, which started on 7th street, at the visitor parking lot by Old Main.

Mandy Transon, a junior early childhood special education major and co-director of the EIU Dancers, said that her experience this year is different, but it was nice to experience a new type of Homecoming than what she was used to.

“It’s a lot different but I really enjoyed it,” Transon said. “I’ve been able to go to things so it’s the Black Party, which was really fun. So it’s nice to get out there. See some familiar faces and some new faces.”

Transon started college at Eastern in 2020, so she had to wear a mask to class, at events and during the parade previously. 

She said it felt nice not to wear one, show school spirit more normally and go to different events.

“For starters, we don’t get to wear the masks, but we get to go out to show our school pride and kind of let people know who we are,” Transon said. “So that’s been really nice. We’ve had more interactions with people and got to go to different events with our jackets.”

Dylan Wettig, a senior history education major, is the president of Phi Kappa Theta. 

At the Homecoming Parade, each fraternity is paired with a sorority. Phi Kappa Theta was paired with Delta Delta Delta for the duration of the parade.

Wettig, who started college in fall 2019, said his freshman year Homecoming experience was fun. He is hoping that this year feels more normal, like his freshman year, since it is post-pandemic.

“I would say Homecoming last year kind of felt like our freshman year,” Wettig said. “And then I’m hoping this year kind of feels the same way as freshman year. But I definitely feel like with COVID and everything, it’s changed a lot of things. So I feel like everyone’s getting back to normal. The 100 percent normal year, this year, back when it was like when we were freshmen.”

Wittig says that it is important to enjoy the Homecoming experience. He said it is a great way to connect with others, meet new people, make new friends and build a stronger Eastern community.

“I really feel just like having the connection like we always are paired with sororities, for Homecoming, and being able to hang out with somebody,” Wittig said. “New people usually get to make more friendships and just really celebrate Homecoming and everything together.”

Jade Stone, a junior elementary education major, is the Residence Hall Association president. Stone walked in the parade with the RHA float.

Stone said that she liked getting to see all of the residence halls come together for Homecoming and meet new people.

“It was awesome,” Stone said. “I love getting to know new people, seeing all the people who live in the residence halls and seeing what they do.”

Even though Stone’s first parade was last year, in the midst of COVID-19, she said that it was awesome to have a bigger group this year.

“Since it was outside, it was a lot easier,” Stone said. “We just had a little bit of a smaller group walking with us [last year], but this time we were able to get a lot more people to walk with.”

Stone said that, especially during Homecoming, students should put themselves out there. By meeting new people and getting involved in Homecoming, Stone thinks that people can learn more about Eastern as well.

“Honestly, you just have to get yourself out there; meet new people,” Stone said. “That’s how you get involved in stuff. Homecoming is a great way to meet new people, have fun and get to know the school as well.”


Katja Benz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].