St. John’s hosts its first annual Winter Homecoming event

St. John’s will host its inaugural Winter Homecoming 2003 celebration on the Queens campus Feb. 15, with daylong festivities beginning at 11 a.m.

The annual event, traditionally held in the fall, was moved to the winter this year in an attempt to draw a larger crowd and create an atmosphere more appealing to University alumni, said Dave Wegrzyn, vice president for University Development and Athletics.

“People know us as a basketball institution, and our alumni are primarily drawn to our basketball team, as evidence by a game at [Madison Square] Garden where you can have 18,000 people,” Wegrzyn said.

“We want to take advantage of the opportunity to form a Homecoming event around such a large group of alumni being drawn back to campus.”

The day’s scheduled activities will revolve around the men’s basketball game against the Providence Friars tipping off at 2 p.m. at Alumni Hall, which will feature the Extreme Team “World’s #1 Acrobatic Slam Dunk Team” performing at halftime.

“I think it’s most important to have Homecoming on campus, so [alumni] can come back and see all the improvements.

“Whether it’s Montgoris Dining Hall, or the dorms…or some of the things going on in the library, it’s something to be proud of and to bring people back to,” Wegrzyn said. “And at the same time give them an opportunity to see a game.”

The pre-game SJUfest starts things off in Marillac Terrace from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and will include many activities for students, alumni and children to participate in.

“We’re going to have a DJ there, playing all kinds of sports-type music to pump the crowd up,” said Kirsten Kupferschmidt, event planner and assistant director of special events for Alumni Relations.

“We’re going to have double-shot basketball, and a 7-foot inflatable walk-around person dressed like a basketball, which will be pretty interesting,” Kupferschmidt continued.

The pre-game will also include sports targets for baseball and soccer, an electronic golf challenge, arts and crafts for children, face painters, a tattoo artist, balloon animals, and a juggler.

Deans from each college will also be present, and merchandise from the University catalogue will be available for purchase.

Admission is $5 per person, and each participant will receive a free T-shirt and have the opportunity to enter a raffle with a grand prize of two round-trip tickets to Las Vegas.

“The pre-game is going to be a lot of fun,” Kupferschmidt said. “It’s something different, so if you’re a student, and you have nothing else to do, for $5 there’s all these games – an unlimited amount of games you can do.”

From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., complimentary campus tours will be leaving from Marillac Terrace to show the growth and expansion the University has seen in recent years.

This will be followed by a Pep Rally at 1 p.m. featuring the Cheerleading squad, Dance Team and school Mascot Thunder to get the crowd ready for the game. The University will be dressed up for the event as well, in an effort to raise morale and drum up school spirit.

“We’re decorating the campus,” Kupferschmidt said. “We’re decorating Marillac Terrace. We want it to be big banners everywhere, really popular. We want a lot of people to come.”

Following the game, a buffet will be held in Marillac Terrace from 5 to 7 p.m., where students and alumni will have a chance to mingle with each other, as well as with basketball coach Mike Jarvis.

Tickets for the dinner are $25 per adult at the door, or $19 if purchased before Feb. 7 by calling ext. 1504 or logging on to www.sjualumni.com.

“This is just a chance for the students and alumni to come together and visit with each other,” Wegrzyn said. “It’s always good as a student to meet some people that might be able to help you in the future.”

Winter Homecoming 2003 looks to draw a large crowd for a day filled with activities, fun and excitement.

“It’s an opportunity to come to a pre-game reception and enjoy the atmosphere that the Alumni Office has put together and hopefully be able to celebrate a win together with the team,” Wegrzyn said. “It’s just something to celebrate who we are and what we’re all about.”