It’s almost that time of year again! Maroon and white everywhere, parade preparations, and Bears football fans (and tailgating) will be on everyone’s mind. It’s Homecoming at Missouri State.
A year ago, marketing ad/promotion minor Tai Thrasher got an unexpected first-hand look at MSU Homecoming pageantry at its finest. She was nominated by her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, as a Homecoming queen candidate. With a love for marketing and Missouri State, creating a campaign to run for Homecoming queen was an exciting challenge for Tai.
So what goes in to a successful campaign? Candidates earn the crown by ending Homecoming week with the highest total score from three categories: event participation, personal interview and student body elections.
To ensure student votes, candidates promote themselves on campus by establishing a themed campaign. Tai went for a 1970s vibe, using the tagline “Peace. Love. Bear Up.” For cohesion and recognition, she created groovy flowers and funky tie-dye as promotion elements. Everything from flyers to sidewalk chalk drawings featured these. Tai’s favorite promotional pieces were her banners that hung in the PSU and around campus. Instead of using a plain colored sheet, Tai and her sorority tie-dyed sheets to make them stand out and be consistent with her theme.
Throughout the week, Tai went to as many events as possible to earn points in the participation category. Not only was she present, she performed in two of the major events. The stomp competition Yell Like Hell and American Idol-style event Rockstar were the most nerve wrecking for Tai. “Those are always fun to watch but actually participating was really rewarding because it was something I had never done before and was very out of my comfort zone,” Tai said. Without much experience dancing and learning routines, preparing for these was extra time consuming for her. In spite of this, “those were my favorite memories looking back.”
To execute everything during the lead up to Homecoming, a lot of preparation and help from others is crucial. Tai’s campaign manager and her sorority sisters helped make everything possible. “If it weren’t for the help of a LOT of people, it would have been much more difficult to do everything expected of me as a candidate,” Tai said.
Not only was her organization her support system, so were the other candidates. During Homecoming season, royalty court spends a lot of time together at events so Tai said, “It’s a hectic couple of weeks and it was nice to have other people in the same boat to lean on.”
Everything during the last week leads up to Saturday’s main events, the parade and the football game. Surprisingly, “Saturday is honestly one of the most stress-free days of Homecoming because all you have to do is show up and have fun,” Tai said. By then, all of the planning and performances are done so candidates can enjoy everything with their families and the rest of the court.
The day started bright and early with the parade. During this, the royalty court rode together through downtown Springfield, ending just off campus. From there, they made an appearance at tailgate. Tai got to greet friends and fans with her family and the other candidates as they made their way through and to the stadium.
During the first half of the game, Tai and the rest of court hung out on The Clif at the top of the student section. A little before halftime the group made their way down to the field where the night before they had practiced the coronation ceremony to make sure everything would run smoothly. The group was feeling a mixture of excitement and nerves.
Once lined up and ready, there was a lot of suspense, within the crowd in the stands and the court on the field, until winners were announced. Tai’s hard work paid off when she was crowned queen next to king, Jessen Miller. Tai said, “Even if I hadn’t of won, I would’ve still been very thankful for the experience. Being able to represent my sorority and all of the other organizations I’ve been a part of it was fun and rewarding.”
The next week, Jessen and Tai got an email from the Office of Student Engagement congratulating the pair. They also wanted them to emcee the Family Weekend Talent Showcase. This turned out to be the first of many emcee opportunities that included the basketball pep rally Rave in the Cave, Star Awards and more. Along with hosting events, the two have worked hard to be present and show support at a wide array of campus events throughout the past year.
At this year’s Homecoming, Tai and Jessen plan to emcee Yell Like Hell and will attend coronation to retire their crowns to this year’s winners. Some of those candidates reached out to Tai to get advice and hear her story. Tai said, “It was nice to be able to share my experiences and help them as best I could to prepare them for this season. Just knowing that they felt comfortable reaching out was neat.”
This year, Homecoming starts for students on Sunday, October 22rd with Decorate Downtown. To see Tai take the field again and support this year’s candidates, see the Bears play the Homecoming game against the Indiana State Sycamores on October 28th at 2pm in Plaster Stadium.