Homecoming weekend is a time for University of Florida alumni to return to Gainesville and celebrate alongside current students and the wider community.
UF's 2022 Homecoming includes multiple events such as a "fun run," a parade and Saturday's football game pitting the Gators against the University of Missouri Tigers. The student-run Gator Growl pep rally is being held at the O'Connell Center for the second straight year and will feature a rap performance and be hosted by a Heisman Trophy-winning former Gator quarterback.
"I cannot wait to see all of our Homecoming events come to life on Friday," said Emma Carter, UF homecoming general chair. "Getting to see my team’s hard work come to fruition will feel so rewarding. I also am excited to see the Gainesville community at our events. Creating traditions that extend beyond UF’s campus and student body is what Homecoming weekend is all about."
Here's a roundup of festivities the community can take part in:
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The Homecoming Festival will take place at UF's Plaza of the Americas this Friday, running from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The festival includes vendors, games and fun activities for families. It also allows for student organizations and local businesses throughout the community to promote themselves.
The Gator Gallop is a two-mile "fun run" that begins Friday at 10:45 a.m.
Members of the Gainesville community will race through campus, starting at the Plaza of the Americas and running past the Marston Science Library before turning left on 13th Street. The route will take runners on West University Avenue and around Ben Hill Griffin Stadium before they return to the starting line.
This year's race is sponsored by Johnny Townsend Foundation, an organization founded by former Gator and NFL football player Johnny Townsend.
All participants receive medals and T-shirts, while first-, second- and third-place winners will get trophies. There will also be a contest for the best-dressed participants.
The Homecoming Parade is a Gainesville tradition, featuring floats made by students and other community members. It's also a time of celebration for students at Alachua County Public Schools, as they get a day off classes to take part in the festivities.
The parade starts Friday at noon. For the second year, the parade will take a different route that it had in the past due to the speed tables installed north of campus on West University Avenue.
The new route instead starts on Museum Road, heading north on Southwest 13th Street before turning east on University Avenue and ending downtown at Bo Didley Plaza.
The parade is observed every year by tens of thousands of people who line the sidewalks along the route and broadcast by WUFT.
"This is the Moment" is the theme of this year's parade and is meant to be a focus "on the current trends that make UF and Gainesville the communities that they are."
Not tired from all of the day's homecoming festivities? Well, end the night with Gator Growl.
This year, Gator Growl will take place Friday evening at the O'Connell Center. The event was long held at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and then at Flavet Field before moving last year to the current location.
Gator Growl is considered one of the biggest student run-pep rallies in the nation,. Festivities consist of musical and comedic entertainers, performances from UF cheerleaders and the Pride of Sunshine marching band.
This year's event will be headlined by Flo Rida, an American rapper, singer, songwriter and composer from Carol City, Fla. He was the rapper behind the 2008 breakout single "Low," a No. 1 hit for 10 weeks in the United States. In June he released his most recent single, "What A Night."
The event will be hosted by Danny Wuerffel, a former UF quarterback who led the Gators to four Southeastern Conference championships and brought them their first national football title. Currently Wuerffel is the executive director of Desire Street Ministries and president of the Wuerffel Foundation.
Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.gatorgrowl.org or the O’Connell Center box office
This year marks UF's 99th Homecoming Game and pits the Gators against SEC rival Missouri in a noon matchup at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The Florida volleyball team also plays over the weekend, taking on the Louisiana State Tigers on Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at the O'Connell Center.
The fun doesn't end this weekend. On Monday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom, students can take attend the "multicultural extravaganza" Soulfest.
This year's Soulfest theme is "Future of the Culture." UF students can show off their dance moves, singing voices and school spirit.
This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: UF Homecoming includes parade, Gator Gallop, Flo Rida at Gator Growl