Golden Flashes Reunite for a “Bright” Homecoming 2021
Campus was overflowing with blue and gold pride again this year as the Kent State University community came together to celebrate Homecoming. Golden Flashes enjoyed many activities, both outdoors in-person and online, throughout the weekend, which ran from Friday, Oct. 1 through Sunday, Oct. 3.
In addition to the classic Homecoming traditions, Kent State introduced new activities and events for the entire community to enjoy, including the Homecoming Kickoff celebration on Oct. 1 and the first-ever parade livestream that was hosted by Kent State students and featured an exclusive coffee chat with President Todd Diacon.
The Class of 2020 was also honored Friday, Oct. 1 with a special outdoor commencement ceremony. Nearly 600 members of the class and their families attended to celebrate this milestone in person.
"It was great to welcome alumni and friends home to make new memories and take part in many favorite Homecoming traditions,” said Valoree Vargo, vice president for philanthropy and alumni engagement. “Last year, we learned that our Golden Flashes enjoyed the opportunity to participate online from wherever they are, and we were excited to see alumni celebrating both on campus and across the globe once again.”
The day kicked off with the Bowman Cup 5K Race, followed by the band blaring the Fight Song down Main Street at the Homecoming Parade. The parade also featured the Class of 2020 as this year’s Grand Marshals, dozens of floats, the Homecoming court and much more. In addition to President Diacon’s special appearance, Provost Melody Tankersley and new Athletic Director Randale Richmond participated in a live question and answer session during the parade livestream for those attending the celebration virtually.
The excitement continued as nearly 86 couples who met at Kent State shared a smooch at noon in the center of Risman Plaza for the 10th Annual Kiss on the K. Honorary Kent State couples who were nominated by their friends and family also returned to take part in this tradition.
Raymond, ’19, and Allison Rogers, ’21, met at Kent State in 2018 when they were set up on a double date by a fellow couple. All four Golden Flashes participated in Kent Cru (CRU), an on-campus Christian organization, and the friends knew that Raymond and Allison would make a great pair. They were right; seven months later, Raymond and Allison were engaged!
“We’ve now been married for a year and three months, so we always feel nostalgic coming to campus for events like this,” Raymond said. “It’s cool to be here with other couples and celebrate together at the place we all met.”
Later in the day, thousands of fans gathered outside Dix Stadium for the Flash Nation Tailgate featuring food, fun and festivities. Several alumni chapters including Lake County, Cleveland and Black Alumni, also held tailgates to celebrate before the game.
“It was so great to spend time at the tailgate with both students and alumni,” Branden Townes, ’22, said. “Seeing so many alumni come back to Kent State today has made me excited to come back after graduation for years to come and continue supporting the Golden Flashes!”
Then, a special announcement swept through Dix Stadium at halftime. Kent State University revealed the launch of Forever Brighter, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the history of the university with a goal of raising $350 million. Golden Flashes rocked their blue and gold Forever Brighter sunglasses as they watched how philanthropy can illuminate the world and create a brighter tomorrow for us all. Details are available at www.kent.edu/foreverbrighter.
Jatia Caples and Andrew Pitko were announced as 2021 Homecoming Royalty during halftime of Kent State’s Homecoming football game at Dix Stadium. The excitement of the day culminated as the Golden Flashes beat the Bowling Green Falcons 27 to 20.
Walt, ’95, and Kristina Bainey, ’00, were excited to be back on campus again.
“The past 18 months have been weird. I could walk all the way down the esplanade and not see anyone,” Walt Bainey said. “It’s so good to see everyone come together and have some fun celebrating Homecoming. The campus has changed a lot over the years but it is even more beautiful than before and you get a happy feeling every time you come back to Kent State.”