COLUMBIA — Should the fur on Truman the Tiger’s belly be curly or straight?
This might not be a question asked every day, but it generated some spirited comments outside Campus Bar & Grill on Thursday morning, when MU students began Decorate The District, a part of the centennial celebration for MU Homecoming. Emily Armstrong, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, quickly answered the question for her group as she scanned the swirls drawn on the window.
Straight fur. Definitely.
Greek pairings, residence halls and student organizations that opted to participate in the tradition had to decorate the windows and storefronts of their assigned business in The District. Work started at 10 a.m. Thursday, and decorations will stay up until 2 p.m Sunday. Judging will take place at about 4 p.m. Thursday.
This year, participation increased to 44 from 30 groups.
Carrie Bien, coordinator for student programs for the Mizzou Alumni Association, credits the increase to more residence hall involvement and the fact that this Homecoming tradition is an easy and inexpensive way for any student organization to get involved.
Homecoming and the weeks leading up to it are both stressful and gratifying for student participants. When asked about how many hours they had put toward Homecoming preparation, the collective answer was, simply, “too many.”
“The past couple weeks, we’ve gotten four hours of sleep a night and done stuff during the day. But it’s definitely worth it now because all the planning’s paying off,” said Shelby Jasper, a member of Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, who worked inside Tellers Gallery & Bar.
Organizations attacked the window project with different strategies. Some showed up with stencils and a plan, while others decided to wing it and hope the outcome turned out the way they wanted it to.
“The planning is all necessary, but it’s really fun now because everyone can come out and decorate,” said Sarah Ely, also in Alpha Kappa Psi.
Students put in the hours decorating, but downtown businesses also play a role in the Decorate The District event.
“We always try to get involved in campus activities. Sororities and fraternities are huge in our store and our business," Brittney Scott, manager of Red Mango, said. "It’s just another great way of showing we’re part of this community.”
Because this year is the centennial, the stakes are higher in the competition.
“I’d say this year’s a lot more intense because it’s the 100th year. A lot of people want to steal that title for number one,” said Caroline Tiske, a sophomore member of Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Students look forward to the 100-year tradition continuing and are excited to be able to look back on their participation even after graduation.
“It’s cool being part of a tradition that’s been around for so long. It’ll be worth it when we’re older and coming back here and we’re like, ‘Hey, by the way, we were involved in Homecoming,’” said Marie Mandelberg, a leadership adviser from Hawthorn Hall.
Ben Micek, College Avenue hall coordinator, said he felt Decorate The District was a great way to get students involved.
“New students can jump into a tradition that they can (stick) with throughout their tenure as students and beyond,” he said.