Students paint campus traditions for this year’s Decorate the District

Many local businesses downtown enjoy participating in this annual Homecoming tradition.
MU junior and member of Alpha Chi Omega Molly Michaels paints the external windows to Pickleman’s for “Decorate the District” in celebration of the upcoming Homecoming festivities on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in downtown Columbia. “I’ve been painting since I was a kid, and now I’m actually an art minor,” Michaels said.

Down Ninth Street and Broadway, students crowded in front of businesses with their paintbrushes. Some crouched, while others worked high on ladders to cover the taller windows.

Thursday marked MU’s annual tradition of Decorate the District, where student groups painted images of campus traditions on downtown Columbia’s business fronts.

Decorate the District is a Homecoming tradition that extends celebrations to the off-campus community, giving businesses a chance to participate and offering colorful window murals for passersby to enjoy.

Outside Lizzi and Rocco’s pet market, MU senior Maureen Calhoun was perched on a barstool, her paint spread out on the window sill, putting finishing touches on a David Bowie-style thunderbolt over Truman the Tiger’s face.

Calhoun is a member of Delta Xi Nu Multicultural Sorority and an employee at Lizzi and Rocco’s.

“It’s a really good way for Mizzou students to interact with other businesses and organizations that aren't on campus,” Calhoun said. “That's something I really like about Mizzou, it's not insular. We participate with all other kinds of organizations around Columbia and around the world.”

Each student group was designated sub-themes, all in line with this year’s Homecoming theme of “Rhythm of the Roar.” Paintings ranged from Mizzou traditions to popular Columbia destinations.

The groups began working at 10 a.m. Thursday and raced to finish by their 4 p.m. deadline, often working in rotations. Later in the evening, Homecoming judges stopped by to view their work.

Fraternities and sororities comprised most of the participants, but it was not only Greek organizations out decorating.

Junior Alyssa Norberg painted the Alpine Shop windows with other members of the Catholic Student Association. Norberg feels the event brings down borders between different student groups.

“It illuminates different aspects of Mizzou that might go unnoticed,” Norberg said. “It's not just a tradition for the CSA or for Alpha Delta Pi or for any sorority or anything like that. All of these traditions are all of ours, and so to have them all come together in one place really exemplifies that.”

Lynn DeCapo, assistant manager of Alpine Shop, enjoyed her third year participating in the business end of Decorate the District.

“It's always fun to see the artwork and participate in things that are going on in the community,” DeCapo said. “I have fun going to the bank and seeing all the different themes play out throughout all the different businesses.”

On some occasions, the window decorations actually compliment the businesses.

DeCapo said she was excited to see trees and nature on her outdoor shop’s window. Across the street, Cookie Monster covered the window of Hot Box Cookies.

Students and residents also understand the event’s function as a bridge between the school and the community.

Freshman Tess Phillips painted Yogoluv’s windows with her sorority Alpha Delta Pi.

Phillips recalled parents stopping so their children could gape at the paintings.

“They think it’s awesome,” Phillips said. “It's cute; I love it. You know that everyone is excited. It’s a way to bring the whole town together for Homecoming.”

Edited by Sarah Hallam |

Share: Facebook / Twitter / Google+

Article comments


This item does not have any approved comments yet.

Post a comment

Please provide a full name for all comments. We don't post obscene, offensive or pure hate speech.