During the first homecoming weekend without any COVID-19 restrictions since 2019, the University hosted a slew of activities to go along with the highly anticipated football game and encourage school spirit.
This year, Campus Activities and Cornell Alumni Affairs and Development planned a week-long lineup of programming. Beginning on Monday, the organizers held a “Show Us Your Big Red Pride” event that was moved into Willard Straight Hall due to rain. Then, on Tuesday, Ho Plaza was occupied with stands for Big Red Tie Dye, followed by free sweatshirts on Wednesday which had over an hour worth of lines.
The week continued on Friday with the Class of 2026 photo on Rawlings Green, a Cornell tradition where the first-year class creates their graduating year via a drone photo. The event also provided students who arrived before the 5 p.m. start time with free blankets and pints of ice cream from the Cornell Dairy Bar. That night at 7:30 p.m. the Fireworks and Laser Light Show began on Schoellkopf field with a live DJ and dancing drawing out a crowd despite the cooler temperatures.
Leading up to the Homecoming game against Yale at Schoellkopf, the Big Red Fan Festival, hosted every year by the University, offered food and free shirts to the first 3000 supporters that arrived. Both the Cornell University Cheer Team and the Cornell University Dance Team performed and rallied the crowd throughout the game. The Big Red Marching Band also helped keep spirits high, performing before the game, having single group instrument performances during the game and putting on a great show during halftime, even featuring Olivia Rodrigo’s hit song “good 4 u.”
After the game at 7 p.m, the Cornell Concert Commission hosted lovelytheband, with opener Indigo De Souza at Barton Hall. Every year to close out game day, the University hosts a Homecoming Concert, this year was sure to include the tradition.
Gabriella Best ’26 said that it was her first band concert experience since before COVID-19, explaining that it felt like a normal event.
The programming allowed students to showcase their school spirit and come together for the weekend, with the most emphasis on the game itself.
Some students felt ambivalent about COVID-19 restrictions such as masking and social distancing.
“I wasn’t worried about [COVID-19], because we’re all vaccinated,” said Taylor Haines ’24. “It was a lot better than last year, I felt we were really able to celebrate as a campus more than previous years.”
The streets and campus bustled with students and alumni donning Cornell gear and gathering in groups of families and friends.
Students were not surprised to see that Cornell lost to Yale University, but many still said that attending the game was a fun way to show their school spirit.
“Even though we lost, it can still be a fun thing to go [to],” Haines said.
Best said that she liked that she was able to enter and exit the stadium as she pleased.
“It was super fun just to be there and to be able to walk in and out so easily,” Best said.
As the year progresses, students hope to keep up the school spirit, both for football and for other sports.
“It’s fun to have school spirit, I wish our school had more athletic school spirit,” said Jillian Steinmetz ’25. “We have other really successful sports that just don’t get a lot of [recognition]. Men’s lacrosse last year, they were in the championship.”
Correction, Sept. 27, 2:52 p.m.: The initial version of this article misstated that Campus Activities and the Cornell Concert Commission planned the homecoming events, but the events were planned by Campus Activities and Cornell Alumni Affairs and Development. The events also began with an event in Willard Straight Hall, not the tie dye event. The story has been corrected.