NCCU Homecoming Nears; Dollar Impace Substantial

One of the more anticipated events on Durham’s annual calendar, North Carolina Central University’s homecoming, kicks off Oct. 24 with a fireworks show. Besides the football game on Oct. 30, other events include the Homecoming Parade and Founder’s Day, which honors Dr. James E. Shepard’s birthday. Shepard founded the university exactly 100 years ago.

The annual autumn ritual brings more than memories to the city. The Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that the weeklong series of student, alumni and public events pumps $1.03 million into Durham’s economy in visitor spending. That fattens Durham’s tax coffers by nearly $22,000, a financial bonus in a year when city and county revenues may sag again.

“Each year, Durham warmly welcomes the thousands of North Carolina Central University alumni and fans who return to our city to enjoy food, fellowship and fun during homecoming and all of the events associated with it,” said Durham Mayor William V. “Bill” Bell. “NCCU’s homecoming, like so many of the events we are proud to host in Durham, has a significant impact on the overall economic well being” of the city, he said.

Homecoming week officially begins with the crowning of Miss NCCU on Oct. 24 at 5 p.m. in the gymnasium. The event will pause at 8 p.m. for a citywide fireworks show over the campus.

The Founder’s Day Program is open to the public and is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on Oct. 29, in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium. The speaker is Peggy Ward, a 1974 NCCU alumna and one of six people awarded an inaugural Shepard Medallion at the NCCU Centennial Gala in May. Ward is a former member and chairwoman of the NCCU Board of Trustees. In a long career in the insurance business, Ward has earned numerous honors for her service to customers and the industry.

The grand marshal of the popular Homecoming Parade will be Jeffrey L. Throop, president of the Tournament of Roses. NCCU’s Sound Machine Marching Band was chosen to perform in the 2011 Rose Parade, one of just a few historically African-American university bands invited to perform in the parade’s 122-year history.

NCCU’s Homecoming parade begins at 9 a.m. on Oct. 30 at W.G. Pearson Elementary School on Fayetteville Street and ends at Fayetteville and Lawson Streets. Police will close streets several minutes before the parade begins. The homecoming football game, at 2 p.m. in O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium, pits NCCU against Florida’s Edward Waters College.

For the first time, alumni who want to attend evening events will be able to place their youngsters in an on-campus child-care program. Children five to 13 can be enrolled in the Eagle Homecoming Camp, which will operate from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Oct. 29 and 30. It includes supper, snacks and games. The price of the camp varies depending on whether child is enrolled for one night or two.

Other traditionally popular events held during the week, some of which have an admittance charge, include:

  • The Choir Ball, a showcase of NCCU’s University Choir, on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.
  • Lyceum, a gospel music concert that this year features singers Smokie Norful and Israel & New Breed.
  • Class reunions for graduating class years ending in 00 and 05. The Class of 1935 is the earliest scheduled to hold a gathering.
  • Induction of more than 60 members of the Class of 1960 into the Society of Golden Eagles. The society is made up of alumni who graduated at least 50 years earlier.

A complete schedule of events is on NCCU’s homecoming website, . Tickets to many events also can be purchased on the site.