Photo by: Austin Kemmerlin

During the Homecoming parade, 22 organizations decorated golf carts and walked along the streets of campus.

Homecoming events were at the center of conversations this time of year, uniting current students, faculty, alumni and the Pee Dee region for one purpose – honoring the contributions FMU has made to the education of hundreds of thousands of people since 1970.  It allowed students to take a break from the semester, gave them the opportunity to makes connections with alumni in the community and let the region show its Patriot pride.

The festivities kicked off Thursday night with the homecoming “Glow in the Dark” dance.  The dance was sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA) and the University Programming Board (UPB).  UPB hosts the event each year to get students prepared for the big homecoming games.  This year’s dance featured music by D.J. Fisher, glow sticks, black lights and a photo booth for souvenirs of the night.  Around 400 students of all majors and classification attended the event.

Latarsha Green, sophomore biology major and UPB Executive Chair, helped to organize and host the event.

“The dance always gets people hyped for homecoming and gets them in the Patriot spirit,” Green said.  “It’s an opportunity for students to meet homecoming king and queen candidates, meet the deans and get closer to their FMU family.”

The festivities picked back up Saturday morning with the Patriot golf cart parade.  The parade featured 22 organizations and consisted of 15 carts and 7 walking groups.  The carts were decorated by each organization and driven up and down the streets of the FMU campus.  Students not participating in the parade, as well as faculty members, family members and people from the community, lined the streets to watch.  The parade featured the Wilson High School drum line. They played for the duration of the parade to get spectators excited about homecoming.

The golf carts parked in front of Smith University Center (UC) where the Patriot Fest was to be held immediately following the parade.  The UC was separated into different sections including: Patriot Games, Kids Corner, Spirit Station, concessions, a photo booth, Student Alumni Association (SAA) and a dining area.  Each station presented different opportunities for the community to get involved and enjoy everything being a Patriot has to offer.  Sodexo provided a catered meal that was free to all in attendance.

SAA had a table that displayed FMU Vignettes from 1970-1990 for viewing and offered spirit items for the basketball games.  They also passed out free “Class of 2015” shirts while the Athletics department hosted Patriot Games that allowed people to win FMU Athletics t-shirts.  The cheerleaders ran the Spirit Station where they offered face painting to children.  The Patriot Bookstore offered flash sales and discounted items all day.

During Patriot Fest, the winners of the Patriot Games (games held all week long for organizations to compete) were announced.  Zeta Tau Alpha took second place with Kappa Delta taking first place for the women’s competition.  First place in the men’s competition went to Tau Kappa Epsilon.  Other awards were handed out for sportsmanship.  These awards were picked up by Tie Chena Brown for the lady Steelers and Aaron Langston for the Baptist Collegiate Ministries.

The homecoming sporting events included FMU tennis, baseball, women’s basketball and men’s basketball.  The basketball games hosted several different events during intermissions and half times.  Before the women’s basketball game tipped off, a silent auction was held in the gym by the Swampfox Club.  All of the proceeds from the silent auction went towards FMU athletics.  The auction showcased items such as autographed jerseys and baseballs, Florence RedWolves merchandise, woodworking by FMU biology professors Dave Stroup and Larry McCumber and lessons taught by different FMU athletes in their respective sports.

Following the women’s basketball game, the newest members of the FMU Hall of Fame were inducted at half court in front of a packed gymnasium.  The newest members were Erin Jones, former Patriot baseball pitcher, and Kirk Bevington, former Patriot men’s soccer defender.  Jones still holds the Peach Belt Conference record for the most completed games.  Both men excelled in their sport at FMU as well as in their professional lives after graduation.  The pair received plaques honoring their success at FMU.

The men’s basketball game tipped off following the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and concluded with the presentation of the new homecoming king and queen.

FMU may be a smaller university, but it has a Patriot spirit that has captured the entire community.