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"Wonka" Homecoming doubles last year's turnout

[Photo By: Cade Clark] Though the promised chocolate river wasn’t ready in time for the Homecoming Dance, the snack table still featured a chocolate fondue fountain.
The theme for the Homecoming dances, held on Friday from 5 p.m. to midnight, was “a night of pure imagination.” In harmony with the theme, the Weber State University Student Association turned the Shepherd Union Ballrooms into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

The promised 30-foot chocolate river, however, was not featured at the dance. According to Thomas Judd, activities director and a public relations/advertising major, the river was a last-minute idea and wasn’t going to be completed in time.

“At this point, it was going to be more trouble than it was worth,” Judd said. “It was kind of an afterthought.”

Regardless of the river idea flopping, students were able to use a chocolate fondue fountain and a snack bar with a large selection of chocolates and goodies. The ballroom featured hanging candy-shaped decorations and green turf as a welcome carpet, and the Willy Wonka film was projected on the wall behind DJ David Hancock-Taylor, who was also the DJ for the pep rally on Monday, Sept. 17.

Judd said he had high expectations for student turnout this year due to the creative and laid-back theme, and the attendance doubled from last year’s Homecoming Dance.

“This is your way to get involved and have fun,” Judd said. “These are the memories that we’ll always remember.”

Courtney Ellis, special events director, assisted Judd in planning out the dance and Homecoming Week in its entirety. According to Ellis, at least 450 students attended the dance.

“It was a blast,” she said. “I think everyone on the team had a good time, and we are super grateful to everyone who came.”

Although students weren’t required to dress up, Heather Gray and Jesse Cleveland, early education majors, decided to dress up like Oompa Loompas. Gray and Cleveland were able to source most of their supplies from around the house. Their overstuffed pants came from Walmart and their orange makeup from a Halloween store.

“It’s a Willy Wonka-themed dance, and we like to have fun,” Gray said. “Oompa Loompas matter.”

The student dance lasted from 8:30 p.m. to midnight, with the “true Wildcat” tradition following promptly at midnight. Couples and single WSU students gathered under the bell tower and the surrounding plaza area to await the ding of the bells.

To become a “true Wildcat,” students must kiss their date during all 12 strikes of the clock. The clock didn’t strike at exactly midnight early Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop WSU students from locking lips and endowing the title of “true Wildcat” upon each other. At about 12:02 a.m., the bell tower’s clock rang its bells and couples began to kiss again.

For many Wildcats, this was their first time attending Homecoming, and their first time experiencing the tradition after the dance. Mercedes Meridian, a deaf education major and sophomore, said she was excited to become a “true Wildcat” early Saturday morning. She said her favorite part of the dance was being with everyone and hanging out with her friends.

“I thought it was all great,” said Meridian, regarding the decor and overall theme of the dance. “It was all Willy Wonka stuff, which is really cool.”

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