A Legacy to Shape the Future

Homecoming events unite students, alumni, faculty, and staff in their Penn State pride.

The Penn State Homecoming parade: The Penn State Marching Blue Band plays, student groups walk through, the alumni and Homecoming courts make an appearance—but the handmade floats are the true attraction. 

Penn State Blue & White Society's Homecoming float

Homecoming Parade 2013

The Penn State Blue & White Society's float depicted Old Main as well as the Nittany Lions' original colors of pink and black Oct. 11 during the 2013 Homecoming parade.

Image: Bill Zimmerman

The Homecoming Parade begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 9, at University Park.

Student groups have honed this practice for many decades, with alumni groups adding their own creative flair in this evolving tradition.

This year, the Hampton Roads (Virginia) Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association is coming home with a float in tow—just one of the ways its members bond over their common love for Penn State.

Hampton Roads chapter members wear We Are shirts at former Homecoming celebration

Hampton Roads

The Hampton Roads (Virgnia) Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association has featured a pirate-themed Homecoming float the last few years, winning "Best-Out-Of-State Participant" in 2012. The group will once again participate in the Homecoming parade on Oct. 9, although with a sailing theme. The Hampton Roads Chapter is one of more than 300 Penn State Alumni Association affiliate groups. More information is available online at alumni.psu.edu/groups. 

Image: Hampton Roads (Va.) Chapter

Their theme this year? A float centered around new chapter member Justin Casavant's SUV—to be built into a 14-foot sailboat. 

"[W]e thought this theme was a good way to bring a slice of Virginia Beach to Penn State," says Casavant.  

Penn State Homecoming 2015

Casavant and his fellow Hampton Roads chapter members are just some of the many alumni who will join current students in celebrating their Penn State pride this Homecoming weekend.

Homecoming 2015 events lead up to the October 10 noon kickoff against Indiana.

A host of other opportunities offer alumni a chance to show their Penn State pride and connect with friends, classmates, and other Penn Staters, while celebrating this year's theme: "A Legacy to Shape the Future." 

In addition, the week leading up to the October 10 noon kickoff against Indiana will be full of student events with the Alumni Association's two student groups, Blue & White Society and Lion Ambassadors. These include a dance competition and concert, talent show, carnival, and other events that highlight Penn State's history and traditions. 

Homecoming Parade and Ice Cream Social 

The annual Homecoming Parade brings together students, alumni, faculty, and staff members from the Penn State community through a procession down the University Park campus and downtown State College area. Many community members travel long distances to participate in the parade—they are celebrated with an Ice Cream Social at the Hintz Family Alumni Center from 1 to 4 p.m. The Homecoming Parade begins at 6 p.m. 

Homecoming 2015 Grand Marshal

Keegan-Michael Key, producer, actor, and writer, will be returning to Happy Valley as the Homecoming 2015 Grand Marshal.

Keegan-Michael Key photo

Keegan-Michael Key

Keegan-Michael Key will be one of the Penn State celebrities to attend the annual Alumni Zone this year, after the Homecoming football game against Indiana. 

Image: Photo via Keegan-Michael Key

"The Homecoming Executive Committee selected Keegan-Michael Key as the 2015 Grand Marshal in honor of his contributions to the arts and teaching during and beyond the four dedicated years he spent at Penn State," says Katrina Brintzenhoff, alumni relations director for Homecoming 2015. 

Key calls his role as Grand Marshal "a rare opportunity to not only represent your alma mater as you remember it, but [also represent] the memories of all who have served and attended the University."

Since earning his master of fine arts at Penn State in 1996, Key has gone on to become a successful comedian. He is best known for co-creating and starring in the Comedy Central hit show "Key and Peele," for his six seasons on MADtv, and for his co-starring role on the USA Network comedy series "Playing House." 

2015 Homecoming Honorary Grand Marshal 

Ian Rosenberger, this year's selection as honorary grand marshal, is the founder of both Team Tassy and Thread International—created in 2010 in the wake of the Haiti earthquake. 

Team Tassy places the poor into jobs, and Thread International takes trash from poor neighborhoods and turns it into fabric. 

"We chose this year's honorary grand marshal because Rosenberger has done a lot of notable things in his industry," says Brintzenhoff. "He has given back to the community in many ways and is a very down-to-earth person."