A week-long series of events in celebration of Homecoming 2010 at Eastern Illinois University will culminate Saturday, Oct. 23, with a fun-filled day of activities and a visit from "The King."
Mattoon resident Scott Wattles, a.k.a. Elvis Presley, will serve as grand marshal for this year's parade, while dozens of floats, flatbeds and other entries reflect, too, this year's Las Vegas-based Homecoming theme of "EIU Bets on Blue."
Early risers can prepare for the day with a warm meal, courtesy of the Charleston Rotary Club and EIU. Serving for the 11th annual pancake breakfast will take place from 6:30 to (approximately) 11 a.m. in the parking lot of Domino's Pizza, located at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Seventh Street. Prices are $6 for adults and $3 for children under 10. The menu includes pancakes, sausage, milk and coffee.
All proceeds from the breakfast will go to support local Rotary projects, including "I Like Me" books, presented to Charleston first-graders in order to promote reading skills and self-esteem. Each book is personalized with a student's name, their friends' names, teacher's name, etc., woven into the story.
With their appetites taken care of, individuals can then cheer on their favorite athletes as they participate in the 11th annual EIU/Charleston 2.5K (1.5-mile) Homecoming race, which begins at 9 a.m. Runners/walkers will begin at the corner of Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue, make their way north on Seventh Street to the Charleston Square, then return to EIU's Old Main via Sixth Street.
The entry fee is $9. Awards will be presented, and McDonald's will provide gift packs (including food and drink) to all participants. Prizes will be given for best full-body costumes. (Anyone interested in participating should contact John Henry Pommier at 217-581-6597.)
For the second consecutive year, parade participants will experience a modification to the route traditionally used for years. Eastern's 2010 Homecoming parade begins at 9:30 a.m. As is customary, the parade will begin at the intersection of Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue, travel north to Monroe Avenue, west on Monroe to Sixth Street, then south on Sixth.
Instead of ending at Old Main, however, parade participants will turn west onto Polk Avenue until they reach Division Street. Heading south on Division, they will cross Lincoln and head for Grant Avenue (a.k.a., Panther Way ), winding up at the tailgate area at O'Brien Stadium.
As the parade route includes Charleston's Morton Park, community members are encouraged to bring lawn chairs for a safe and relaxing view of the parade. Family-oriented Homecoming activities will again be provided at the park, and will include a bounce house and EIU cutouts, perfect for photo ops!
The annual Homecoming football game, in which the EIU Panthers host Murray State, begins at 1:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased the day of the game at O'Brien Stadium at a cost of $15 for adults, $13 for EIU staff, $7 for high school students and $5 for children (ages 4 through middle school). EIU students will be admitted free with their Panther Card ID.
Football fans are invited to arrive early and show their Panther Pride at this year's Tent City/Billy's Backyard, where representatives and alumni from each of Eastern's colleges will be gathered to renew old friendships and begin new ones. The tailgating event, scheduled to officially begin at 11:30 a.m., will include a Kids' Zone, a Blue Zone, live entertainment, food and giveaways. Admission to these activities, taking place behind O'Brien Stadium, is open to all.
In total, more than 20 campus- and community-wide events have been planned for Homecoming Week (Oct. 18-23). Other events occurring this week include a pep rally from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, in McAfee Gym. Community members are invited to come and help cheer on the EIU Panthers. Admission is free.
For up-to-date information on all Homecoming events, please see http://www.eiu.edu/hcevent.