Homecoming is a tradition for people, churches, towns, high schools and colleges, usually in the autumn of the year. Orangeburg’s universities are marking homecomings in October and November.

South Carolina State’s week of events is concluding this weekend. Claflin’s homecoming will begin Nov. 11.

The first order of business is to welcome all alumni and friends to Orangeburg. These are festive occasions that are important to the universities and important to Orangeburg. Colleges and universities across America annually welcome back alumni and friends. It’s crucial to recruiting and fundraising.

As much the real beauty of homecoming is building the sense of family that unites graduates and supporters across time, this year’s events are special.

At S.C. State, a celebrated alumna headlines the weekend. Miss USA Kara McCullough will serve as the grand marshal for Saturday morning’s homecoming parade and will take part in other events during her return to Orangeburg.

The parade will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28. The grand marshal will lead the parade from Edisto Memorial Gardens to the S.C. State campus.

A 2013 S.C. State graduate, McCollough was crowned Miss USA 2017 in May, becoming the second Miss District of Columbia in a row to win the honor. She is a scientist with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response in Washington, D.C.

At 11 a.m. Saturday, the Rose Garden at Legacy Park will be dedicated. And, of course, numerous activities surround the focal point of the weekend, Bulldog football. S.C. State faces Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rival Howard at 1:30 p.m. at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.

At neighboring Claflin, homecoming week from Nov. 11-19 has the theme "Claflin LEADS -- A Shared Vision for the 21st Century." Singer, songwriter and record producer Evelyn "Champagne" King will headline the 24th Annual Presidential Scholarship Gala at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, in the Tullis Arena of the Jonas T. Kennedy Health and Physical Education Center.

Other activities for the week include a homecoming parade and a men's and women's basketball doubleheader tournament, as well as the Annual Founders' Day Convocation.

For the City of Orangeburg as well as the universities, the events call for extra preparation. An action plan for big events such as homecomings was implemented in 2000.

Formulated by a special committee representing city government, county government, institutions of higher education, the business community and various law enforcement agencies, the plan calls for:

  •  Closing of area businesses by 1 a.m. following certain activities.
  •  Enforcement of city and state laws.
  •  Management of traffic congestion at key intersections.
  •  Elimination of illegal median parking and parking along major throughways during any large event, and instead providing shuttle bus service from venues such as the fairgrounds or middle school parking lots.
  • A predawn cleanup on the morning after a major event.
  •  Use of additional personnel from other communities to assist in monitoring of activities and crowd control and access control to businesses.
  •  Portable signs to direct some traffic through the city and other traffic to parking areas.
  •  Disposable trash containers throughout areas where visitors congregate for special events.

The action plan for homecoming and other major events has been a success. It involves plenty of official presence with agencies from the state to university levels in Orangeburg on busy days such as this Saturday.

The focus will be on monitoring the good times and ensuring safety – to ensure that all the enthusiasm for homecoming remains as the memories are made.

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