MU students will soon paint the town black and gold, decorating downtown businesses with storefront murals ahead of Homecoming weekend.

Decorate the District allows campus organizations to paint downtown business windows. The paintings will be available to view Thursday, Oct. 7, through Sunday, Oct. 10.

When the event was first created, fewer shops and businesses were open downtown. To help bring these places more business and create a community between downtown and the university, the Homecoming Committee created Decorate the District, said Homecoming Committee Coordinator Charlie Koors.

“They really just wanted to strengthen a lot of the partnerships we had and really show that Mizzou has an interest in the community,” Koors said. “It was just a fun way to paint the town black and gold for Homecoming weekend.”

Members of Greek life organizations participate, as well as other clubs and individuals. Businesses downtown that have volunteered their windows for the event include the Columbia Art League, Chipotle, Missouri Theatre and Boone Olive Oil Co.

“We normally have about 15 of our Greek groupings who paint windows, and then we have 25 to 35 student organizations that paint windows as well,” Koors said. “I think it’s just really increased over the years, the accessibility factor that anybody can participate in Homecoming.”

Previously, students have represented well-known MU icons such as Truman the Tiger and the columns, while adding their own flair to represent their organization.

This year’s theme is video games. Students will be painting games such as “Animal Crossing,” “Webkinz,” “Club Penguin” and others.

Homecoming Tri-director Jackson Ptasienski said he is eager to see the artwork students come up with and how different organizations work together for the event.

“You’ll see artwork of different drawings of ‘Pac-Man’ or ‘Donkey Kong,’ all on these huge business windows,” Ptasienski said.

Organizations compete against each other to earn points during Homecoming. At the end of the week, judges will walk downtown and reward teams with points. By the end of the night, a team will be crowned the winner.

“Organizations are all over downtown painting different windows of businesses according to their sub-theme of video games, which we assigned at liaison meetings throughout the year,” Ptasienski said.

“Their artistic talents will be shown and displayed for the weekend for people to wander down and explore the businesses as well, which is great for the community.”

It’s only recently that the Homecoming Committee has opened events to club organizations and individuals, large and small.

“Back in the day, Homecoming was a very specific group of students on campus who would participate,” Koors said. “I think that today, we’ve really changed the culture of Homecoming into something that all students can participate in at Mizzou.”

To take part in the event, sign up at Decorate the District will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for four days, beginning Oct. 7. The art in the business windows will remain until Sunday, Oct. 10, after Homecoming has ended.

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