COLUMBIA — Greektown was glistening extra brightly Friday afternoon as members of sororities and fraternities nailed, glued and decorated the finishing touches on their house decorations.
They had been working around the clock since August to get their Homecoming art ready for the big weekend, and their "house decs," a major part of the Homecoming festivities, will be on full display for the public Friday night.
For Alpha Delta Pi and Delta Sigma Phi, who were paired to create a display, the final product — the group's Nashville design — took 300 people and planning that started in April, said Kaylyn Shinault, the Homecoming liaison for Alpha Delta Pi.
"It's amazing how much time on top of academics they put in," Shinault said of her group members' involvement in the design.
Sororities and fraternities are grouped to decorate houses, build parade floats and participate in Homecoming activities such as Homecoming Talent, a dancing and acting competition. They compete for points to "win Homecoming."
Each group is given a theme to use in creating decorations. This year, that theme is "America's Great Cities," with each group selecting a city to feature. The groups craft sheets of plywood into displays no greater than 16 feet by 32 feet. Many of the displays require "pomping," or wrapping small sheets of tissue paper around a pencil or dowel and gluing the paper — each piece no bigger than a cigarette — to the plywood spread. The rest of the display is covered in glitter, paint and lights.
On the Friday night of Homecoming weekend, the public visits the elaborate displays while house members put on short skits.
Although the planning committees begin preparations months in advance, the execution and construction take place in just a few days. The scaffolding used to put up the pieces of plywood must be approved by a fire marshal at 4 p.m. Thursday. Only then could the groups begin putting together the decorations.
"I've been up since 6 a.m. yesterday," Tim Staat of Beta Sigma Psi said Friday afternoon.
The all-nighters seemed to be a common thread the Thursday night before Homecoming. Several Greek house members said Friday afternoon that they had been working since 4 p.m. or earlier Thursday.
Kristy Wogtech of Delta Delta Delta said members of her "house dec" group each contributed 40 hours to their Los Angeles-themed display, which features a glittery red "El Capitan" theater marquee and the MGM logo with a bright yellow Truman in the middle.
By 6 p.m. Sunday, all decorations must be taken down, and the wheels start turning for next year's extravaganza.
Although Staat had put hours into the display before Friday night's performance, his favorite part has yet to come.
"It'll be cool to be an alumni and come back and see it. It'll all mean a lot more then," Staat said.
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