During Homecoming Week, downtown Columbia businesses suddenly take on new personalities with images of Truman the Tiger or messages like “M-I-Z” sprawled across the windows.
This annual interaction between MU students and downtown businesses, known as Decorate the District, reminds the community of the important “town and gown” relationship.
This year, Decorate the District will take place Oct. 20, two days before alumni, family and friends pour into Columbia to enjoy the Homecoming game and visit the city.
This event is designed to orchestrate a relationship between MU students and local business owners with student organizations, Greek Life and honors societies assigned to paint the store fronts.
“It involves local businesses and it reaches outside of just campus and the students. I think it shows the whole community our Homecoming spirit,” said Karsen Idleman, MU senior and one of three Homecoming Steering Committee drectors.
In recent years, Marching Mizzou, MU Tour Team, Mizzou Student Media, the Alumni Association Student Board and various Greek chapters on campus have participated.
This annual activity also enhances the Homecoming parade route, which weaves through campus and the downtown area on Saturday morning. The parade route provides an opportunity for guests, students and parade participants to observe the artistic abilities of students.
“That’s the unique thing about Decorate the District,” said Matthew Rothermich, a Homecoming Steering Committee director. “No matter how large or small a group is, everyone comes together to create a really cool experience.”
Students are not the only ones who create memories. Joe Chevalier, owner of Yellow Dog Bookshop, said he has participated in Decorate the District for years. The front of his bookstore on Ninth Street has been painted by the MU Honors College, Homecoming court and several Greek organizations over the years.
“The whole downtown has a festive air that weekend, and it’s fun to see the creativity on display in all the shop windows,” Chevalier said. “It’s probably the most positive interaction between the city and the university, and it helps some students discover us who might not have otherwise.”