Whitney Ervin, Correspondent
If you have spent much time around Jacksonville since Oct. 4, you may have noticed many of Jacksonville’s local businesses are showing off their school spirit with decorated storefronts.
That’s because Homecoming Week is upon us again as the Gamecocks prepare to take on the Mercer Bears this Saturday. In an effort to ramp up school spirit as the community anticipates the return of the football team, many of the student organizations have teamed up with local businesses to “Paint the Town Red.”
Veronica Bjorkman, JSU’s assistant dean of students for student life, said that the university was inspired to implement “Paint the Town Red” as a Homecoming theme after hearing the idea.
“We liked the contest idea so much that we decided to make it our overall Homecoming theme this year, because it represents JSU school spirit and a sense of staying united as a community during these challenging times,” said Bjorkman.
Student life at Jacksonville State University has looked a little bit different this year due to the pandemic. Though the university student life policies have changed as the COVID-19 situation changes, masks have always been required on-campus this semester and social distancing has been enforced.
Homecoming is no different, as evident by the decision to not host a Homecoming showcase and parade.
In an effort to keep the community close, Bjorkman said she has worked with the Student Government Association to come up with an idea for a friendly contest. Together, they chose to “paint the town red” by pairing student organizations up with local businesses to decorate their storefront windows for homecoming week.
Student organizations and businesses were paired as follows:
Alpha Xi Delta – Loco Mex
Freshmen Forum – Red Threads
Pi Kappa Alpha – Struts
JSU Ambassadors – Waffle House
The Wesley Foundation – Amy Angel
IGA – Zeta Tau Alpha
Phi Mu – Heirloom Taco
On Tuesday, a panel of judges went to inspect the decorated windows. The winners of the contest will be announced on Saturday during the third quarter of the Mercer game. Each of the top three contenders will receive a commemorative plaque as well as the first-place school organization receiving $500, second place receiving $300 and third place receiving $200.
This theme stretches out over the course of the week as there are a series of other decorative competitions being held in addition to the namesake contest.
Many things look different as we gear up to welcome our football team home. Though the pandemic is keeping everyone at a distance, it is heartwarming to see local businesses and students collaborate to support our university. Yet we can all take comfort in knowing that we have a community that sticks together through thick and thin.