The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

A rootin’ tootin’ time

Panthers saddle up for Homecoming 2023

Yee haw! The University of Northern Iowa 2023 Panther Homecoming will be a rootin’ tootin’ time with plenty of fun and spirit for all. Tuesday officially kicked off 2023’s Homecoming Week with the Traditions Challenge Amazing Race brought to you by Connecting Alumni to Students (CATS). With a “Panther Country” parade downtown and a calendar week chocked full of events that will be sure to pique anyone’s interest, this year’s Homecoming is one for the books.

Homecoming Goosechase

Now until Oct. 22, create a group and compete with others in the amazing Goosechase for a chance to win a Panther prize pack while crossing off tasks that can be applied to the UNI Traditions Challenge. Participants receive one entry into the prize drawing per 1,000 points. If the tradition tasks are completed, graduates receive a pin to wear proudly on their graduation gown with 25 completed tasks and a medallion for 50 tasks—and bragging rights, of course. Download the Goosechase app on the App Store or Google Play and use the following registration codes: faculty, staff, and students use code ZM1VL9 and alumni and friends use code 5W86MG. Any questions on the Traditions challenge can be directed to [email protected].

A team of international students gets ready to set off on the Traditions Challenge Amazing Race on Tuesday

Thursday, Oct. 19

Decorate for the Week

Calling all Panthers that hold offices or are involved in departments on campus: decorate your office in the best “Panther Country” garb and win a Panther Country swag bag. Submit all entries by using #PantherCountry on Facebook, Instagram, or X, or you can email it to ur@uniledu. Entries are due at noon on Thursday, Oct. 19.

Dinner… with a twist

CAB will be serving dinner in which a great crime has taken place. Test your detective skills at 6 p.m. in the Maucker Union Ballrooms and try to uncover the culprit as each break between the night’s dinner course reveals a clue into the crime. 

Kate Rogers, organizer of mysterious dinner party and Campus Activities Board (CAB) member, says that this year’s Barbie-themed murder mystery will be one to attend, with ten spots left to join. If the event is full, names will be added to a waitlist to replace those who cannot attend that night.

Rogers, now director, is in her second year on the committee and says that the new script is bringing lots of excitement.

“We have the Cedar Rapids theatre coming in,” Rogers said of the dinner and a show. “This year we worked with the Theatre Cedar Rapids and they created a whole new script for us.” 

If this is your first time attending the event, Rogers says wear your best Barbie attire to get in the mood of the event, even though you may feel silly—remember, you are always Kenough. 

Friday, Oct. 20

Got Eight Seconds to Spare?

UNI’s College of Business will be looking for the toughest wranglers among its students with its Bull-Ridin’ Bonanza. On the South Lawn of Curris Business Building from 1:30-3:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20, games, music and a mechanical bull will get wranglers fired up for Homecoming Week! See if you can last eight seconds!

Cowboy Up and Party Down at the Homecoming Bash

Sarah Craw, assistant director of UNI alumni relations, says that the event has grown quite successfully after last year’s Our Tomorrow campaign launch. 

“Attendees can expect a carillon concert at 5 o’clock, live music on the stage outside of the Commons at 6 o’clock, and then a feature concert with Justin Adams at 7 o’clock,” she said. “We will also have door prize drawings and some fun Panther giveaways on the campanile lawn.”

The Bash will be held from 5-9 p.m. and will host a variety of activities, food vendors and entertainment. Some food vendors include Bowls of Love, Burrito Express, That’s So Cheesy and more.

Adams, the night’s grand performer, graduated from UNI in 2008 and is a former football lineman and defensive end, holding a school record for 54 games played consecutively and was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame in 2021. Now turned country singer, Adams returns to his alma mater in concert.

“He came to us at an event in Nashville that he was attending as a regular alumni and said that he would love to participate in a future opportunity, which was perfect timing,” Craw said of the singer’s reunion. “Bringing back an actual alum to celebrate Homecoming with us is just really special.”

Craw is excited to see all the Panthers come back and celebrate with everyone during the fun-filled week.

Homecoming festivities were kicked off with the Traditions Challenge Amazing Race, sending groups of students all around campus to take photos of iconic UNI traditions. (ISABELLE BRADLEY)

Line Dance the Night Away

At 9 p.m. on the Campanile Plaza, get your boots on and dance to some tunes provided by your favorite UNI alum DJ Ian Goldsmith, which many of his jams you’ve more than likely heard at UNI sporting events. 

CAB President Jaye Haines said that there are lots of campus activities coming up, and she cannot wait to change the plaza into a dance floor. 

“I think why we keep this long lasting tradition going is because it gets students excited to be a part of something that everyone gets to enjoy in their own way,” she said. “Homecoming is always my favorite week because there is so much going on and everyone is excited to be a part of it.”

Post Homecoming, look for upcoming events like the Fall Fest and Game Night sponsored by the CAB!

Kiss your Cowpoke

As the clock strikes midnight on Friday, students will gather under the Campanile to complete one of UNI’s oldest traditions—a kiss, that is. 

Beginning in 1920’s after the Campanile’s construction, according to the UNI Archives, it was known that the Campanile was a courting site for many students. The tradition of campaniling was revived in 1979 by the UNI Alumni Association, altering the tradition slightly in this process.

Today, that history still lives on, except, if participants didn’t kiss someone at midnight, it was said in myth and student tours that one of the tower’s bricks would fall on their head.

If it’s a quick peck on the cheek or a romantic dip-and-kiss with a partner, campaniling is one of UNI’s most rooted traditions to kick off Homecoming’s weekend festivities. If that’s not your thing, Hershey’s kisses will surely get you in with the tradition. 

For those that didn’t participate and showed up dateless to observe the decades-long tradition, the action was dubbed “creepaniling.”— No shame here; FOMO is not allowed during Panther Homecoming Week.

To get some memories and merch of the night: “Pick up a Campaniling button from CATS, while supplies last,” Craw added of the night’s end cap celebration. “It’s a sight to behold, even if you do not participate.” 

Saturday, Oct. 21

Get your feet moving!

Join the Panther Pacers for a 5K run/walk beginning at 8 a.m. at the UNI Campanile. Panther Pacer’s President Hope Schulte says the 5K will be an exciting time, and is excited to see the community and UNI come together to celebrate Homecoming Week, as the event ties together the university and the community that boasts its Panther Pride. 

Racers can register for the race up until Friday, Oct. 20, at 11:59 p.m. for $25, or register day-of for $30. Those who register after Oct. 8 may receive a t-shirt, pending availability. Parking will be available in the Gilchrist A lot and race packets can be picked up that Friday from 5-6 p.m. at the southwest entrance to Maucker Union, or on race day from 7-7:45 a.m. at the starting line. Runners and walkers will circle UNI’s southeast side of campus twice and finish back at the Campanile. Any questions about the event can be directed to [email protected]

Panther Country Parade 

If you aren’t feeling up to getting moving at 8 a.m., at least come join the Panther Homecoming parade at 10 a.m. downtown where tons of community members, students, alumni, faculty and staff will gather to see the floats that shine with Panther Country pride. Add a little country flare to your cart and get gussied up for the event! Partnering with Cedar Falls Main Street and KWWL for the third year in a row, attendees will hear from emcees Rick Coleman, KWWL News Sports Director, and Tara Thomas-Gettman, Director of Strategic Communication for the City of Waterloo. 

A variety of UNI and community groups will walk this year’s parade route, starting at the corner of 6th and Washington, then traveling east to Main Street. The parade will flow north on Main Street to 2nd Street, and east to State Street, passing the main state at River Place Plaza. It will then head south on State Street to end on the corner of State and 4th streets. (NI ARCHIVES)

This year’s Homecoming parade grand marshal is Judith Finkelstein, a 1986 alumni and former faculty member in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Other notable parade honors include UNI President Mark Nook and Gold Star Teachers. 

With road construction in the area, the route will start at the corner of 6th and Washington, then travel east to Main Street. The parade will then flow north on Main to 2nd Street, and east to State Street, passing the main stage and emcees at River Place Plaza, then head south on State Street to end on the corner of State and 4th streets. 

Guests are encouraged to bring tote bags for candy and other items that participants will hand out. So saddle on up and get to Main for the grand parade! Grab Grub before the Game

Sponsored by Hy-Vee and organized by UNI’s Alumni Association, a Homecoming tailgate will be held on the west side of the Dome from 1:30-3:30 p.m. with live music, an inflatable mechanical bull, a bounce house, a Zorb obstacle course, prizes, giveaways and copious amounts of food. 

UNI Football Vs. North Dakota

After getting your fill and putting on your best flannel, go grab a spot in the UNI-Dome to watch as No. 3 ranked UNI try to continue their incredible season as they take on the No. 4 ranked North Dakota Fighting Hawks at 4 p.m. in an exciting game that will feature a lot of fun activities as Homecoming reaches its culmination. The atmosphere in the UNI-Dome will be rocking as both students and the community gather to cheer on the hometown team. 

Sunday, Oct. 22

Homecoming Wrap Up

The Panther women continue their near-perfect soccer season as they take on conference rivals Illinois State in their regular-season finale on Sunday, Oct. 22, at noon west of the Dome. The Panthers are currently one of the best teams in the MVC, and look to continue that momentum as they head into the conference tournament that takes place the following weekend. Sunday is also Alumni Day, so bring your best apparel and be loud and proud as they take on the Cardinals.

For more information on all these events, visit

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