When we tried to get reservations at a campground near Columbia, Missouri, the woman on the other end of the line chuckled. They had been reserved up for months because this is homecoming weekend at the University of Missouri. With that nugget of information, we decided to boondock at Cracker Barrel in Columbia, and take in the homecoming festivities from there.
We started with the Friday evening event at Greektown. By walking up and down the streets in front of the sorority and fraternity houses, we could see the colorful displays they built for this event. We figured out that the homecoming theme was "Game On, Tiger Strong!" We soon found that most people lovingly call this university "Mizzou." We also figured out that the Mizzou tiger mascot was named Truman. Getting all that local knowledge helped to make more sense of the bright displays we were enjoying.
Each group started with a board game, and made its theme the upcoming homecoming football game. Some of the games were a little awkward since it was the University of Missouri tigers vs. the University of Memphis tigers.
Hasbro would be proud to see so many of its games become giant boards for homecoming.
After sunset, the crowds got bigger. The hay bales in front of the displays were filled with spectators as the large-scale games were "played." We noticed that the Mizzou tigers always won each board game.
We finished our evening at the student union on campus, eating with the students for another taste of college life. Let's just say that the single cafeteria option that we had when we were in college is long gone from the campuses of today. We had a hard time choosing from all the choices available to the students.
The next morning we were up early to get a spot on the curb for the homecoming parade.
We watched as the long line of Mizzou band members marched by, led by not 1, not 2, not 3, but FOUR drum majors.
The Missouri School of Veterinarian Science had a team of horses pulling the school's wagon. We really liked the tiger stripes painted on the golden horses' legs to make them look more like the school's mascot.
Since we go to so many parades, we have to note our favorite give-away at each. For the Missouri Homecoming parade, the best was a bag of kettle corn compliments of the alumni association.
The same greeks that built flat game boards in front of their houses for last night, are also showing off the float versions of the same games.
We saw the battleship game last night, and a new version of it is rolling down the parade route. The fraternity and sorority members are following the floats, yelling greek letters in chants. We got the loudest cheering from the floats and the best performances from the bands because we were situated right beside the "judge zone" which they were trying to impress.
Since we're not familiar with the local spirit calls, we weren't aware that when someone yells "M-I-Z" the appropriate response is "Z-O-U!" Since Mark misunderstood the Mizzou chant, the first time he thought they were yelling, "M-I-C" so he robustly responded with, "K-E-Y!" He figured out pretty quickly that was not very Missourian of him.
This Chutes-and-Ladders float is decorated by six columns, and we didn't understand that local landmark until we took a tour of campus later.
It was a beautiful blue-sky day at the quadrangle on campus. That's where we found the six columns from the Academic Hall, the first building at Mizzou. When it burned down in 1892, only these columns were left standing. The plan was to bull-doze them, but a group of fans fought for them to remain on campus. That was a good decision. Today they are a great gathering place in the middle of campus. Mark is almost lost with the crowds taking pictures today. If you're playing "Where's Marko," here's a clue: he's in the lower right hand corner.
Facing those columns is another iconic building on campus. Hanging from the front portico is a new source of pride for the University of Missouri this year. One of their faculty received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for the phage display of peptides and antibodies."
It was a great weather day for a homecoming, even for wanderers like us that have never been on this campus before. But we still enjoyed the architecture and the festivities.
We were filled with Mizzou spirit, but didn't have tickets for the football game. So we moved the motor home from its spot at Cracker Barrel, and headed down the road to more adventures, still singing the theme from the Mickey Mouse Club--M-I-Z "zee you real soon" K-E-Y "Why? Because we like you!"