Homecoming occurs with record attendance

Audrey Matei, Reporter

A line stretching out the entrance of Gordon Parks Arts Hall the evening of Sept. 25 contained eager students anticipating the moment they could join their peers already surrounded by loud music and chatter to experience their first Homecoming since 2019.
That line resulted in record attendance of 533 people, 200 more than previous years.

The “Hollywood”-themed dance was held from 7:30-10:30 p.m. in the Sherry Lansing Theater, another first for the annual event.

The combination of increased attendance and students forgetting their IDs created an entrance line that took 20-30 minutes at its busiest.

Cultural Union President Saul Arnow said the high attendance was exciting.

“Attendance blew the previous record out of the water,” he said. “The venue worked out really well, even though it was at school, giving people the chance to socialize, eat and even dance safely.” 

To satisfy the University of Chicago’s COVID-19 safety protocols, masks were required inside, and food was only allowed to be served and consumed outside. Additionally, the Secret Garden provided an outdoor space to cool off.

Senior Amelia Sharma said that she felt somewhat safe about COVID-19 at the dance.

“For the most part I felt pretty safe, a lot of people did keep their masks on.” she said, “But there were definitely times I felt we were a little crowded.”

Saul said having to accommodate to COVID-19 protocols made it harder to plan the event, which was also two weeks earlier than in past years. 

“The planning process was on a shorter time table, which made it more difficult,” he said, adding that Dean of Students Ana Campos put the planning request form in months ago. “Even then, we could only start planning two weeks in advance.”

Because of the non-typical setting, Amelia said that she had mixed feelings about the dance compared to years past. 

“This one was definitely a bit more crowded. I felt like the dance in Upper Kovler was better because there was more space,” she said. “But I enjoyed that there was an outside area so that If you needed any water you would feel comfortable taking off your mask.”

Homecoming was sophomore Mahi Shah’s first high school dance. She shared similar ideas about location and safety with Amelia. 

“I think It would’ve been nicer if it was all outside because Sherry Lansing is too small for everyone that was there,” Mahi said.

However, Mahi also said she was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the social element of the dance. 

“It was different from how I expected it, but not in a bad way. But I definitely thought there would be more dancing,” she said. “It was really fun to dress up and do something fancy after staying in sweatpants for a year and not being able to go to any events.”