UK homecoming events continue to attract alumni

By Emily Norton

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Hazel Ledford, a graduate of UK’s class of 1940 and the first member of her family to go to college, has been making the nearly 75-mile trip to Lexington to participate in homecoming events for years.

“I grew up at the university,” she said. “I guess when you get to be 93, you’re glad you’re going.”

Ledford has attended every event the weekend offers, starting with a banquet on Thursday night and ending with breakfast on Sunday morning.

She says her favorite part is “the way they always take us on a tour of the campus. I love seeing the library and I think that tapestry is fabulous — I’m fascinated by it. I’ve told everybody to go see it.”

The UK Alumni Association works to plan and promote the year’s events, including this campus tour. The Golden Wildcat Reunion, for those celebrating the 50th anniversary of their graduation, will be Oct. 18-21.

Graduates of the class of 1962 will be bussed to major events of the weekend, said Gretchen Bower, program coordinator for the UK Alumni Association.

Ledford said she loves that “we don’t have to drive anyplace. We park the car and we don’t see it again until Sunday morning.”

The bus will transport alumni to Keeneland for See Blue day, a Homecoming Parade Watch Party, and a Homecoming Tailgate Tent Party, said Jill Smith, associate director for clubs and programs for the Alumni Association.

Alumni also will view the new Wildcat Alumni Plaza off Avenue of Champions across from Memorial Coliseum. The plaza was funded by the UK Alumni Association and was unveiled last April. The bronze wildcat sculpture in the plaza is still in the process of being named, and students can place their votes at

Students can also get involved with the week’s activities on campus. The Student Activities Board spent their time prior to last school year’s Christmas break determining the date for this fall’s homecoming game and even finalized their theme by summer break, said Micaha Dean, director of traditions for the Student Activities Board.

She also said the theme “Blueprint” goes beyond including the school’s color in its name. The theme was chosen as a representation of the changes being made this year. Since 1940, especially, the university has seen countless changes.

“The number of people has changed the most,” Ledford said. “Twenty-five thousand when we had five (thousand) is a pretty big difference.”

The theme will build on previous tradition while also creating new traditions, such as the four-day Float Build from Oct. 15 through 18.

“People need to remember that homecoming is about celebrating the university,” Dean said. “People know it exists but they don’t know why it exists.”

A main goal for SAB is to reach outside of the Greek community and recruit new organizations to participate in homecoming events. All students are encouraged to participate in events such as the traditional DanceBlue 5K, Paint the Town Blue, Kitty Karnival and the homecoming pep rally.

Along with the creation of the Float Build event there is also a new application process for homecoming. Homecoming week will be from Oct. 15-21 and includes the homecoming football game against Georgia on Oct. 20.

Alumni of all ages combine with current students to celebrate homecoming and the traditions of the university.

“It’s just good to get back,” Ledford said.