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Brown Dawg and Grey Dawg greet spectators during SIU's 2016 homecoming parade in downtown Carbondale.

The Southern File Photo

CARBONDALE — The time-honored Saluki odyssey known as Homecoming returns to Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Oct. 8 through 15, featuring favorite events of old and some exciting new happenings.

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“The Saluki Odyssey: Heroes, Myths and Traditions” is the theme, and Walt “Clyde” Frazier, who led the Salukis to national fame and a 1967 National Invitation Tournament basketball championships before a long All-Star career, will return to serve as grand marshal for the festivities.

If you’re a fan of the popular Sunset Concerts held each summer in Carbondale, you’ll be happy to hear that a big, free outdoor Homecoming Concert is planned. Yard Squad, a St. Louis-based reggae band, will perform on the lawn of Morris Library at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13. Formed in 1994, the band has toured regionally and internationally, performing at the Chicago Reggae Festival, the Kentucky Reggae Festival and numerous other venues alongside such artists as Kenyatta “Culture” Hill, Jah Dan, Admiral Tibet, Tosh 1 and Warrior King.

The city of Carbondale will begin “painting the town maroon” on Sunday, Oct. 8, to welcome homecoming in an event hosted by the SIU Homecoming Committee. There will be a window decorating contest local businesses are invited to participate in and a door decorating contest for all campus units and offices as well.

Fall break at SIU takes place at the beginning of Homecoming week so the official homecoming kickoff is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the Student Center’s north entrance. SIU students can interact with homecoming court candidates and enjoy free pizza.

A comedy show with Troy Walker, set for 8 p.m. that evening in the Student Center Ballrooms, is free and open to the public. The fun continues with a lip sync battle at 8 p.m. Oct. 12 in the Student Center Ballrooms. While students and campus organizations will compete, everyone is welcome to attend the show.

Salukis will also be demonstrating their concern for one another that week with a homecoming food drive to benefit the Saluki Food Pantry, which helps out students in need. All SIU staff, students, Greek and registered student organizations and residence hall floors are invited to donate nonperishable food items from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 13 at Faner Plaza. All individuals who donate items will be entered into a drawing for prizes, and the group making the largest donation will be rewarded as well. For more information or help in bringing donations to the drop-off site, email foodpantry@siu.edu.

A good old-fashioned homecoming pep rally begins at 11 a.m. on Oct. 13 at Faner Plaza, and the big homecoming parade is set for 10 a.m. on Oct. 14 through downtown Carbondale and onto campus. Tailgating on Saluki Row follows and at 2 p.m., and the Salukis take on the Illinois State University Redbirds at 2 p.m. in Saluki Stadium. The homecoming king and queen will be crowned at halftime.

In recent weeks, SIU has been recognizing via social media and other publicity some of its special heroes, myths and traditions. For the first time, the Southern Illinois High School Heroes will receive special recognition from the university as well. Area high schools were given the opportunity to select their top two achieving students, and these young “heroes” will be showcased in SIU’s homecoming parade and during the game.

Other Homecoming 2017 activities include an SIU Press homecoming book sale, a dodgeball tournament, the Alpha Phi Alpha Step Show, the Craft Shop Adopt-a-Dawg and Saluki Spirit Sale, the 45th annual Miss Eboness Pageant, recognition of the Class of 1967 and more. Find the complete schedule of events online at homecoming.siu.edu. For additional information, call 618-536-3393.

Homecoming 2017 sponsors include the Student Programming Council and Saluki Athletics along with the SIU Press, Recreational Sports and Services, the SIU Alumni Association and the SPC Homecoming, Alpha Phi Alpha, Special Events and Comedy Committees as well as Progress Port Management in Carterville.

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