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.
Both institutions serve as beacons in the educational process for African Americans and many others. Their records of educational success are significant. Their legacies carry on through generations of alumni. Their economic impact is substantial.
South Carolina State’s week of events is concluding this weekend. Claflin’s homecoming week begins the week of Nov. 10.
The first order of business today 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, the homecoming football game takes on extra significance as head coach Buddy Pough can set the record for wins at S.C. State, eclipsing the mark set by S.C. State icon Willie Jeffries. The Bulldogs take on Morgan State at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Oliver C. Dawson Bulldog Stadium.
Before the game, the annual homecoming parade will begin at 9 a.m. in Edisto Memorial Gardens and move to the S.C. State campus. At noon, the Alumni/Tailgate Reunion will be held at the practice field at Dawson Stadium. After the game, the S.C. State National Alumni Association will sponsor the Throw Back Jam at the Bulldog Lounge/Student Center.
For students and those in town on Friday, highlights will be unveiling of the Stellar Alumni Calendar at the Dr. Barbara A. Vaughan Recital Fine Arts Center at 5 p.m., the Step-Show and Homecoming Concert at Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center with doors opening at 6 p.m., and a Meet & Greet with Charlamagne Tha God from 6 to 7 p.m. at SHM.
At neighboring Claflin, homecoming week will include the Sesquicentennial Presidential Scholarship Gala on Nov. 15, featuring the R&B group The Whispers. The week will mark the first homecoming at Claflin for new university President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack. Other key events are the homecoming parade on Nov. 16, basketball games that Saturday afternoon and the annual Founders’ Day convocation on Sunday.
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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.