COLUMBIA — The judges of the Homecoming 2011 house decorations gathered around a black-and-gold table in a room in MU's Reynolds Alumni Center.
The room had golden walls with golden pictures of Marilyn Monroe and the MU Columns, a golden carpet, black chairs and water bottles with black-and-gold labels. Even the judges were dressed in the university colors.
"People take it seriously and it gets competitive," Sean Flanagan, who is part of the campus decorations committee, told the judges. "They've been working very hard, so feel free to judge hard."
MU's sorority and fraternity houses prepared 14 house decorations for the Homecoming 2011 weekend. They have been planning and working since April to display their talents, engage the community and win the contest.
This year's theme for house decorations is "Celebrations," including sub-themes such as Halloween, winter holidays, Independence Day, the Olympics, New Year's Eve and graduation.
The 14 house decorations were judged by two teams of four judges each: the black team and the gold team. The teams took different routes to visit the Greek houses, see the skits and enjoy the sweets and lemonade provided by the fraternity brothers and sorority sisters.
The judges were selected for their backgrounds in art, education or theater, Kelsey Palmquist, a member of the campus decorations committee, said. Some had more than 10 years of experience in judging house decorations; for others, it was the first time.
The black team stopped first at the Kappa Alpha Theta and Delta Tau Delta houses, where the theme was the Olympics.
The house members had built a map of the world, displaying the Eiffel Tower in Europe, tribal drawings in Latin America, flowers in Asia and national flags in the U.S. and Russia.
Truman the Tiger appeared in the group's skit. Missouri's mascot worried that he had lost the Olympic torch he needed to open the football game, and Cyclone, Iowa State's red bird mascot, seemed to be responsible for the misfortune.
But, with the help of animals from around the world, Truman recovered the torch and gave the signal starting the game. The crowd cheered and the judges smiled.
"It was good," said Sharon Elliott, one of the judges for the black team. "But it's hard to say when you only saw one."
The following four house decorations displayed lively colors, pop music and similar conflicts between Truman the Tiger and the Iowa State Cyclones' red bird. Conflicts were resolved when children shouted "M-I-Z Z-O-U" or made a wish in the magic pot of gold.
That was the case at the St. Patrick's Day-themed skit, performed by members of the Delta Delta Delta and Delta Upsilon houses. Truman the Tiger and a leprechaun invited the children to throw golden coins into a magic pot and wish hard.
"(House decorations) get the kids in the Mizzou spirit," said Molly Delgado, who had come to Greek Town with her three children. Addy, her 8-year-old, is already a Tiger fan and wants to go to MU when she grows up. But for now, she just wants to see the carnival-themed house decorations.
Meanwhile, at the spirit rally, the Golden Girls cheer squad shouted "Tigers" as Truman the Tiger and hundreds of audience members gathered at the corner of Burnham and Richmond avenues in Greektown.
The lawns in front of Delta Delta Delta and Alpha Delta Pi were filled with MU students and families.