KOKOMO, Ind. — Fun and games were on the agenda for Saturday's Indiana University Kokomo Homecoming.
Alumni, students, faculty, staff, and community members enjoyed ring toss, skee ball, golf, a bounce house, giant inflatable ball games, face painting, and prizes as part of the first-ever Homecoming carnival, held in the Kelley Student Center.
Mascot Kingston Cougar even took a turn hitting a baseball and throwing a football at a target, cheered on by students as he took aim.
Lesley Connolly, an alumna who now works at IU Kokomo, brought one of her grandchildren to the carnival. She's enjoyed the Homecoming excitement on campus all week.
"I see a growing sense of pride in being IU Kokomo," she said. "The athletic programs have brought more enthusiasm to our campus, and more excitement. I'm glad our alumni have a chance to come back and experience it, along with our students."
Senior Nick Sears said students are excited about Homecoming.
"This really adds to our student experience," he said. "It also promotes a sense of community, as we all participate in these activities together."
He looks forward to coming back to campus as an alumnus next year.
"It's a great chance for people who graduated before to see what we're doing here on campus, and what we've accomplished."
Senior Lisa Ortega was also glad Homecoming included a community service element, as the Enactus student organization took donations of non-perishable food items instead of charging admission.
The 656 food items collected will restock the shelves at the Kokomo Urban Outreach food pantry, and are badly needed at this time of year, according to Executive Director Jeff Newton.
"We're very excited IU Kokomo included us in their Homecoming," he said. "This is going to make a big difference in the coming weeks."
He said families whose children usually eat breakfast and lunch at school will need more food than usual from the pantries when the schools close for Christmas break soon.
In the Art Gallery, the IU Kokomo Alumni Association hosted an alumni reunion, with time for graduates to visit, share memories, and discover how the campus has changed since they graduated.
Amanda Shoultz, past president of the alumni association, called the Homecoming celebration "the next step in continuing to transform the campus," as it brings alumni back to campus and provides another student life experience for current students.
"It's just amazing," she said. "You can feel the energy on campus with this first Homecoming. It's only going to get better in the future."
Homecoming concluded with the "Naughty or Nice" Christmas concert, performed by the Crescendos and Diminuendos choirs in Havens Auditorium.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.