Members of Greek life gather at Big Red’s Roar on Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Kelsey Darbro)

Homecoming 2022: Nightmare on Normal Street

Story by Pandora Booth, Lasikka Bruck, Clarissa Dean and Maddie Hall|Illustrations by Bailey Brush

WKU celebrated Homecoming with a multitude of festivities on Friday, Oct. 28 and Saturday, Oct. 29 with the theme “Nightmare on Normal Street.” Check out the Talisman’s coverage of the parade, the tailgate, the step show and more.

Parade and Big Red’s Roar

Members of the Phi Mu cheer during the parade on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)

The sidewalks of State Street were packed with people ready for the parade to begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28. Children were dressed in Halloween costumes and dogs were wagging their tails in excitement. 

The Big Red Marching Band led the parade as performances from groups like Kaois Dance Company followed. Sororities and fraternities brought their best energy, floats and candy.

Children ran into the streets to grab their favorite sweets and trade with their friends.

The Big Red Barking Band, featuring different dogs, was a fan favorite. Louisville freshman Charlie Loewy said the Barking Band was his favorite from the parade. The parade was his first Homecoming event. Loewy said he enjoyed it and looks forward to going to more. 

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“I haven’t been to any homecoming things before, but I definitely want to go to the parades in the future. I thought it was sweet how they were passing out candy to the kids,” Loewy said.

After the parade, people headed to Cherry Hall and were greeted by the cheer team. A mix of sororities, fraternities and organizations on campus circled around a stage set up in front of Cherry. 

A range of people were presented on the stage including members of WKU’s football team, homecoming queen candidates and President Timothy Caboni. 

Gianna Cecil, a senior from Louisville, said it was her first time at the parade and at a Homecoming event. She said she enjoyed her experience at Big Red’s Roar. 

“This is the first time I’ve actually been able to come to it because I’ve had stuff every year. So, I’m glad I’m able to finally make it,” she said.

An Alpha Gamma Delta member wears skeleton makeup to go with the Homecoming theme, “Nightmare on Normal Street,” on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
Pi Kappa Alpha members rally on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
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President Timothy Caboni dances to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” at the Homecoming parade on Normal Street on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Veronica Teeter)
President Timothy Caboni dances to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” at the Homecoming parade on Normal Street on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Veronica Teeter)
Simga Kappa’s float’s theme was “Goosebumps” for the Homecoming parade on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
Simga Kappa’s float’s theme was “Goosebumps” for the Homecoming parade on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
Alpha Omicron Pi members sport striped socks to match their “Beetlejuice”-themed float on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Alena Hines)
A Homecoming queen candidate rides in a vintage Ford and waves a red towel as the parade makes it way towards downtown Bowling Green on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
Children watch the floats in the Homecoming parade drive down State Street. They are ready to collect candy. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
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Walking with the Global Learning Office, Mariia Novoselia, proudly holds her Ukrainian flag during the Homecoming parade on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)

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Members of the Phi Mu sorority hold a sign and smile after their float won third place on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps).
A child in a dinosaur costume collects candy that was thrown from a float during the parade on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
WKU Best Buddies walks in the Homecoming parade on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
Students sit on the roof of a house to watch the parade pass by on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
Members of the Chi Omega, FarmHouse, Lambda Chi Alpha and Gamma Theta fraternities follow the first place float to the end of the parade at Cherry Hall. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
The WKU cheerleaders encourage the crowd as the final floats reach the end of the parade. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
Members of Greek life gather at Big Red’s Roar on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Kelsey Darbro)
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President Timothy Caboni teases a student at Big Red’s Roar. (Photo by Brett Phelps)

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A Best Buddies member dances at Big Red’s Roar on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
The announcer introduces each of the Homecoming queen candidates at Big Red’s Roar. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
Alpha Delta Pi members cheer on their Homecoming queen candidate as she’s introduced at Big Red’s Roar on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Veronica Teeter)
Chi Omega members celebrate on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
Members of Chi Omega attend Big Red’s Roar on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
A Michael Myers mask is passed among the crowd at Big Red’s Roar on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)

Tailgate

Western fans pose for a photo at the Homecoming tailgate on South Lawn on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Veronica Teeter)

A flurry of red, white and black covered campus on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 29 as fans prepared for the Homecoming football game against the University of North Texas.   

Fraternity and sorority tents covered South Lawn, with members dressed up in suits and dresses. Under many tents there were cornhole boards, snacks and alcoholic drinks to accompany the pregame festivities. 

Hardinsburg  junior Elise McCoy, the interim president for Delta Sigma Pi, said this was her first time getting to enjoy a tailgate after participating in the Big Red Marching Band during her first two years at WKU. 

McCoy said the most fun part of her first tailgating experience was reconnecting with alumni from her coed fraternity. 

“Seeing all the old alumni and getting to reconnect with people who held high ranking positions in our frat has been a real hoot,” McCoy said.  

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A mix of country and rap music blared during the tailgate as the Big Red Marching Band rehearsed for their walk down the Hill from Parking Structure 1 and into the Houchens-Smith Stadium. 

Several campus departments had tailgating tents, including Potter College of Arts and Letters and Gordon Ford College of Business. A few of these tents offered free WKU merchandise such as coasters, water bottles and towels.  

The WKU Alumni Association held a big tent run while other alumni decided to set up their own areas in preparation for the game. Mike Riggs, an alum from Bowling Green, said he has been to every Homecoming tailgate for the past 25 years. Riggs has many connections to WKU, as his dad is also an alumni, he met his wife at the university and his son is a current student. 

“Homecoming is always great, and now that our son is a junior at western we get to share that with him,” Riggs said. “It’s a lot of fun to come back and see everybody at one time versus running into them at different places at different times.” 

The Topper Tailgate Show took place towards the top of South Lawn next to Downing Student Union. The Topper Tailgate Show, hosted by ESPN on 102.7, is dedicated to talking about football games and holding exclusive interviews in preparation for the game. The students talked about their excitement for the game as they interviewed President Timothy Caboni before it began.

A child hits a demolition car with a sledgehammer on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
A recycling bin full of empty beer cans sits on South Lawn during the tailgate. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
President Timothy Caboni discusses Homecoming weekend with the pregame radio show ESPN 102.7 during tailgate on South Lawn. (Photo by Preston Jenkins)
A child catches a football at the Homecoming tailgate on South Lawn on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Veronica Teeter)
A seafood boil was offered at the Homecoming tailgate on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Veronica Teeter)
A Western fan shotguns a beer at the Homecoming tailgate on South Lawn on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Veronica Teeter)
A woman high-fives a WKU fan during the Topper Walk before the Homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
Madalynn Alt, a twirler for the Big Red Marching Band, smiles as she participates in the Topper Walk before the Homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Andrea Florence)
WKU cheerleaders lift members of a children’s cheer team. (Photo by Andrea Florence)

Homecoming Football Game

The Hilltoppers football team runs onto the field before kickoff against the University of North Texas on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)

As 2:30 p.m. approached, students, family, faculty and alumni piled into the bleachers awaiting the annual Homecoming football game. Fans were hopeful that the Hilltoppers could secure their sixth win of the season as they took on the University of North Texas. 

Smiling faces filled the student section as the Big Red Marching Band amused the crowd and played the university’s fight song for attendees to sing along to. As the game began, the crowd went wild while screaming, “Go Tops,” along with the cheerleaders who encouraged them.

“I think the most exciting part about the game was when we got our first touchdown,” Phelps junior Tiana Hinkle said. “We were already down by the other team, then we got our first touchdown, and it was amazing.” 

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At halftime, Homecoming queen candidates lined up with their escorts in preparation for their time to shine as 2021 Homecoming queen, Abbey Norvell, prepared to crown her successor.

The crowd cheered as Calleigh Powell, a senior from Vevay, Indiana, was crowned the Homecoming queen.

The University of North Texas won with 40 points while the Toppers ended with 13. Although this wasn’t the desired outcome for the Hilltoppers, fans still enjoyed the game. 

“I love attending football games at WKU. No matter the outcome, everyone always comes together to show support,” Burkesville freshman Adrian Beaty said.

Senior Kaleb Oliver raises his arms as the Hilltoppers enter the stadium at the beginning of the game. (Photo by Brodie Curtsinger)
Wide receiver Jaylen Hall adjusts his gloves before the game at Houchens-Smith Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Preston Jenkins)
Big Red crowd-surfs across the student section during the game against the University of North Texas on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
Defensive tackle Darius Shipp eyes University of North Texas quarterback Austin Aune as he looks to throw the football on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Preston Jenkins)
A WKU football player tackles University of North Texas player defensive back Ridge Texada. (Photo by Preston Jenkins)
Defensive back Kendrick Simpkins tackles wide receiver Kaylon Horton during the game against the University of North Texas on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Preston Jenkins)
The brass section of the Big Red Marching Band plays after WKU scores a field goal on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
Defensive back Kendrick Simpkins walks out of the end zone at the game against the University of North Texas where WKU lost on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Brett Phelps)
Homecoming Queen Calleigh Powell is presented with the award during halftime. (Photo by Brodie Curtsinger)
Calleigh Powell reacts as she is named Homecoming Queen on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Preston Jenkins)
Calleigh Powell holds up her 2022 Homecoming Queen award with President Timothy Caboni, her escort and former Homecoming Queen Abbey Norvell on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Preston Jenkins)

Step Show

Delta Sigma Theta opens the National Pan-Hellenic Council Homecoming Step Show on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Veronica Teeter)

Near the end of the night, WKU hosted the annual National Pan-Hellenic Council Homecoming Step Show. The event took place in Van Meter Hall where seven sororities and fraternities from the Divine Nine, WKU’s historically Black Greek life organizations, performed live. 

According to Britannica, stepping is a “performance that blends African folk traditions with popular culture.” Each year multiple groups from the Divine Nine perform various numbers in the show. This year’s lineup included Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sigma Gamma Rho and more.

All the performances consisted of tap dance, hip hop and interactive dialogue promoting each organization. Many of the dances featured props such as canes, baseball bats and masks.

A panel of seven alumni judges decided on  the winners of the 2022 Step Show. The sorority that won first place was Alpha Kappa Alpha, and the fraternity that won was Phi Beta Sigma.

Doors opened at 6:30 p.m., and  lines could be seen going all the way down College Heights Boulevard. At 7 p.m., the show started in the packed auditorium. Caboni attended the show as a special audience member, sitting in the back row. 

The audience continuously danced in the aisles throughout the presentation to show support while alumni chanted their corresponding Greek life songs. 

“I thought the show was really good this year. It was really a lot of energy,” Indianapolis junior Addison West said.

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The Sigmas, the winning fraternity, chose “Squid Games” as their theme after the popular Netflix show. In their performance, they played three games, including “Red light, green light.”

The AKAs, the winning sorority, chose “Top Gun” as their theme, and their performance told the tale of female pilots almost crashing but successfully landing. They pulled off many stunts, in one of which two girls mimicked a plane while piggybacking on another. 

Lent senior TT Hayden, a member of the AKAs, said the sorority has been organizing and practicing for this night since May. She said they are very happy to be first place this year.

“I feel so excited. I cried on stage because I was so excited,” she said.

Delta Sigma Theta performs an intricate stunt at Van Meter Hall on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Rhiannon Johnston)
The members of Zeta Phi Beta perform during the National Pan-Hellenic Council Step Show. Seven fraternities and sororities performed on Saturday, ending with the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority taking home the WKU NPHC Step Show Trophy. (Photo by Rhiannon Johnston)
Zeta Phi Beta performs at the National Pan-Hellenic Council Step Show on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Rhiannon Johnston)
Omega Psi Phi’s performance consisted of rhythmic choreography, coordinated jumps and high energy. (Photo by Rhiannon Johnston)
The members of Omega Psi Phi at WKU performed in the National Pan-Hellenic Council Step Show on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo by Rhiannon Johnston)