Changes to homecoming events provide a safe way for celebration


Megan Bertsch, Copy Editor (She/Her)

After a year of continuous planning and re-planning, the Hobo Day Committee has taken COVID-19 challenges head on and is excited to bring South Dakota State University a Hobo Day celebration unlike any other.

“Back when school started, they kept reminding students that we’re gonna reevaluate this in 30 days and there’s a chance that we could go home. So the fact that we’re still able to be on campus and together in a socially distant manner, is just very exciting,” the 2020 Grand Poobah Kylee Donnelly said.

The untraditional Hobo Day celebration will kick off with Bum-Over starting Wednesday, Oct. 21. from 5 to 9 p.m. Typically held in the University Student Union, the event will be taking place outside on the Jackrabbit Green this year, snow and all. There will be a Hobo fashion show, so dressing up is encouraged. The Bum Band will also make an appearance, playing SDSU and Hobo Day tunes.

“Students can get a group of their friends together, whoever they want to hang out with, and build cardboard shanties,”  Marie Robbins, assistant poobah of parade, said.

The committee will also be hosting Give-a-Meal instead of Bum-a-Meal, which will be running all week long.

“With COVID-19 restrictions, it’s hard to gather people together and you’re not able to give out food as part of the JacksRBack protocols, so we’ll be doing Give-a-Meal where you can just donate non-perishable items, and it’ll go to the Jacks Cupboard,” Robbins said.

Other events are simply going virtual, like the One Month Club judging and Hobo History Kahoot Night held Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. on Facebook Live.

“Even in a COVID-19 world, we’re still able to have some of those kinds of celebrations. That Kahoot is going to be another fun online one because everybody loves Kahoot,”  Colton Riley, a Hobo Day marketing committee member said.

There will also be socially distanced events like Spooky Hobo Movie Night, Mr. and Ms. Homelycoming, Jacks Got Talent and Hobo Night Live.

The biggest difference in this year’s Hobo Day will be the lack of the parade, but the committee has been working hard to still make the official Hobo Day Oct. 31 special.

“We’ve been working on putting together a Hobo Day celebration video that’s going to be released Oct. 31 in the morning. It’ll just be on our social media pages,” Robbins said. “So hopefully we can get a lot of people to watch that we’ve got some pretty cool speakers in it from SDSU.”

The committee has interviewed a variety of students and staff to feature in their video honoring Hobo Day, showing what Hobo Day and the many memories associated with it mean to the community at large.

“We know we can’t do the parade, but this is what we can do and we’ve had so much support from the campus and the community,” Donnelly said. “I think it just goes to show that SDSU, Brookings, all of us care so deeply about Hobo Day and that’s what’s helped it prevail for the last 108 years. And I feel like especially this year, students need something exciting like this to look forward to.”

After the Hobo Day Parade was canceled in August, the team had only 10 weeks to come up with alternative solutions. Donnelly is proud of her team’s resilience in pulling off a last minute, socially distanced Hobo Day in uncertain times.

“I think it would have been very easy for us to throw in the towel and say ‘oh, we’ll try next fall,’ but that was never anyone’s mindset. It was always ‘okay, what can we do?’” Donelly said.