Greek house decorations celebrate the beginning of MU’s 106th Homecoming weekend

Every year, Greek houses construct Homecoming decorations and invite the community to come out and view them.

Homecoming decorations by members of Kappa Kappa Gamma, Farmhouse, and Phi Kappa Psi.

In yards and parking lots around MU’s Greek houses, decorative plywood boards hung from scaffolding high above the crowds in Greektown, fixed with lights and moving parts to assist in the skits performed by Greek house members on Friday for MU’s 106th Homecoming celebration.

Every year, students bond during the long hours constructing the decorations. For alumni like Matt Frerking, the decorations are imbued with memories of the time he and his fraternity brothers spent preparing for Homecoming weekend.

Frerking graduated from MU in 1991 with a degree in engineering and spent his homecomings decorating at FarmHouse fraternity. Walking through Greektown with his wife and daughter Friday night, Frerking said he felt “fond memories of the traditions and good times [that he had] as a student here.”

The decorating process, however, is a dedicated effort that comes before schoolwork for students involved in Greek Life.

Sophomore Cole Kelley was Phi Delta Theta’s Homecoming liaison this year. Sometimes Kelley had to put extra pressure on members to help decorate, he said.

"I think now, in an undergrad situation, house decs kind of seem unnecessary,” Kelley said. “But as we become alumni, we come back and it offers us a chance to feel still a part of the campus.”

Each house prepares its decorations differently, the biggest workloads often falling on underclassmen. Freshman Alex Lehman, a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, said that her schedule became much busier when Homecoming preparations started.

“It was definitely a big adjustment, doing regular school for a few weeks and then all of a sudden adding 10 hours of pomping to the mix,” Lehman said.

‘Pomping’ is a homecoming tradition during which designs on plywood boards are filled in with small, rolled tissue papers. The process is intentionally tedious to encourage house members to spend time with each other and with members of the one or two fellow Greek houses that they partner with for Homecoming festivities.

“There’s nothing like a conversation between 6 feet of a plywood board you’re sticking tissue paper to,” Kelley said.

Kelley said that while tedious, the process is integral for meeting new people and developing friendships.

Other groups held alternate events in place of traditional pomped displays. Sigma Pi raised money for Children’s HeartLink by selling hot dogs and cotton candy at its carnival in honor of a member who passed away, according to the chapter’s Twitter account and GoFundMe page.

People of all ages enjoyed the shows and decorations put on by the houses. Parents pushed strollers and walked arm-in-arm with grandparents. Food trucks dotted the streets, and at the intersection of Providence and Burnam roads, kids played and ate cotton candy on Sigma Pi’s front lawn.

Lorri Wheeler walked with her husband Gene Wheeler down Richmond Avenue against a current of people pooling at the end of the street between FarmHouse and Kappa Alpha Theta. Lori studied economics at MU before deciding to move to Columbia with Gene.

“This is the busiest Greektown has been all year,” Gene said.

Lori said the house decorations feel like a step in the right direction for Greek Life.

“There's been so much bad news about fraternities in the news, about hazing and all that, so it’s nice to come down to something like this where you can see people having a good time,” Lorri said.

Edited by Olivia Garrett | ogarrett@themaneater.com

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