Preparations were underway Thursday for finalUniversity of North Texas homecoming events taking place today and Saturday.
Homecoming week festivities officially kicked offMonday and students have shown up to events in “strong numbers,” said MaraWashington, coordinator for campuswide events and traditions for theuniversity’s Student Activities Center.
“It’s been a lot of Mean Green pride,” she said.“It’s a very prideful atmosphere. Everybody’s just excited.”
This year’s theme of “Mean Green on the Big Screen”plays off Hollywood and film, and Washington said the office decorating contestallowed university departments to really embrace the theme.
Three thousand T-shirts, 1,000 pairs of sunglasses,500 tumblers and glasses straps are being distributed to students at eventsthroughout the week, and the homecoming crew has traveled the campus ondecorated golf carts, which they call spirit mobiles, passing out swag topeople who flag them down.
Top events slated for this weekend include: aspirit march and pep rally kicking off at 8 tonight at Fraternity Row andtraveling to Apogee Stadium for a bonfire; a homecoming parade beginning at 9a.m. Saturday at Welch and Hickory streets, and the Mean Green football gameagainst the University of Texas at El Paso at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at ApogeeStadium.
Officer Shane Kizer said Denton police will becoordinating the traffic control plan for the parade.
The route will begin at Welch and Hickory streetsand travel to the Square and then from Oak Street to Welch and back up Hickoryto North Texas Boulevard at Highland Street. Forty groups are expected toparticipate in the event, Washington said.
Denton police Sgt. Daryn Briggs said that while theparade starts at 9 a.m., not all roads will be closed then.
“Hickory will be closed shortly before 9 a.m. andwill be closed for the entirety of the parade,” he said in an e-mail.
UNT police are working the intersections in andaround campus while Denton police will work all other areas near CarrollBoulevard to downtown, officials said.
“As the parade gets close to Hickory at Carroll, wewill shut down Carroll both north- and southbound traffic,” Briggs said. “Onceit is closed, it remains closed until the parade finishes its lap around theSquare and the tail end crosses back across Carroll on Oak.”
Kizer said police will have an increased presenceall weekend during homecoming activities as well as assisting UNT police withgame-day traffic.
UNT police spokesman John DeLong said thedepartment always increases the number of officers on duty during homecomingweekend.
“The UNTPolice Department’s goal is to provide a safe environment for the community,”he said.
University officials say this year’s homecoming is“doubly exciting” because of the football team’s 6-3 season. The Mean Greenbecame bowl-eligible after its 28-16 win against Rice on Oct. 31, and has wonfour straight games. This is the first time since 2004 the Mean Green has wonconsecutive games and been bowl eligible.
The homecoming court will be announced at halftimeof Saturday’s game and one male and one female student will be crownedhomecoming royalty, Washington said.
Individuals traveling to the homecoming game viathe Denton County Transportation Authority’s A-train or bus service ride freeif they’re wearing Mean Green attire, according to the DCTA website. The “GetYour Green On” promotion will transport Mean Green fans decked out inuniversity gear to and from Apogee Stadium.
Buses at the Downtown Denton Transit Center willtake fans to the base of the pedestrian bridge Apogee Stadium, and buses willbe available to bring fans back to the transit center after the game, accordingto DCTA.net.
Officials said buses from the Square to the stadiumwill run every 15 minutes from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., buses between the Squareand the transit center will run until 8 p.m. and the A-train will operate from9 a.m. to 11 p.m., with the final train departing Denton at 11:15 p.m.Saturday.
The final homecoming event, “A Gliz and Glamour RedCarpet Affair,” hosted by the Zeta Eta chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority tocelebrate its 45th anniversary, will begin at 9 p.m. Saturday at UNT’s BusinessLeadership Building.
For a complete list of homecoming activities andmore information, visit http://studentactivities.unt.edu/homecoming.
Staff writer Brett Vito contributed to this report.
BRITNEYTABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and viaTwitter at @MGrayNews.