SEMO Homecoming activities unite students and alumni

Thursday, October 18, 2018
The Southeast Missouri State University marching band and cheerleading squad are seen Saturday during the homecoming parade in Cape Girardeau.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — A chilly morning parade featuring fire trucks and Redhawk pride launched Southeast Missouri State University Homecoming activities Saturday.

Southeast alumnus Sherry Jennings owns Mississippi Mutts on Broadway in Cape Girardeau -- located along the parade route -- and was observing from inside her business.

Bands and floats are homecoming parade favorites of the 1987 graduate, she said.

“I wish I could go to the game because I hear they’re really good this year,” she said.

Southeast sororities and fraternities made their presence and support for Redhawks known with colorful floats while blaring music of all genres.

Following the parade, tailgating for the football game began around 11 a.m. in the area surrounding the Southeast Wehking Alumni Center.

George Gunn was overseeing food preparation at the Student Veterans Organization stand for the third year, with the help of Charles Reavis and alumnus Phil Wulfers, he said.

The SVO’s goal is to bring veterans and service members together and provide a support system, while giving back to the community and having fun, according to information on the university’s website.

The organization comprises veterans, current service members, spouses, dependents and civilian supporters who recognize the need for a communal support group.

In addition to football and food, Gunn said he looks forward to the crowds and seeing friends he normally doesn’t meet throughout the year.

“The best part is, these veterans out here come expecting this, and they enjoy it,” Gunn said. “Last year, we did 400 pounds of pork.”

He said the Student Veterans Organization provides all the food and he and the team provide the labor for cooking and setting everything up.

Wulfers -- a 1995 Southeast graduate -- said his favorite part about homecoming is seeing everyone in the community coming together and having a great time.

“It’s an honor. ... It’s nice to give back,” he said of being part of the organization.

Across the parking lot from the SVO stand, Southeast alumnus Jennifer Madlinger was taking part in a game of cornhole with friends.

Madlinger graduated last year and said she likes homecoming because she gets to see her friends while enjoy a visit to Cape Girardeau.

“My sister made fun of me. She said, ‘You don’t even go there.’ I said, ‘It’s still an alumni event.’ I think alumni get way more excited [about homecoming] than students do,” Madlinger said.

Southeast seniors Carly Hale and Katie Williams were making their way into Houck Stadium for the Southeast vs. Austin Peay kickoff.

Hale said she enjoys tailgating during homecoming and attending the afternoon game.

“I try to go every year,” she said. “One of my best friends plays for the team.”

Williams said she loves the parade and she sees it as “family time,” but also as a time to have fun with the people on the floats.

“It’s tradition,” she said. “I took two years off, and this is my first year back in classes. I knew a whole bunch of people on the float.”

Williams said, “I think it’s totally different from people who are from here. It is something really special. The parade itself is just a huge deal for townie people.”

“Homecoming is such a big deal to people here,” Hale said.