This year’s homecoming celebration brought a mixture of alumni, students and Long Beach locals Saturday in anticipation of the game between Cal State Long Beach’s Men’s Basketball Team versus Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Yellow and black balloons soared above Parking Lot 13 to hover over a sprawl of booths and easy-ups. The school colors and the name Long Beach State was emblazoned across each booth and canopy. The smell of barbecue from the Homecoming Pavilion lingered at the entrance. Food trucks such as Son of a Bun and G’s Taco Spot on Wheels were busy at work, catering to hungry visitors.
At the far left of the Walter Pyramid, 22 West Media reprised their role as DJ and received some attention from visitors for their fast-spit rhymes and humor. At the far right, local band The Emperors made a return to the stage with classics that had visitors up and ready to dance.
The festivities included a new carnival ride called “The Sizzler,” henna tattoos, caricatures, balloon artists and Zorb balls. Kat Fontilea, a recent graduate of the class of 2016 and volunteer for 22 West Media, said she believes the event is just as special to the city of Long Beach as it is important to the campus.
“[CSULB] is the only university in Long Beach and you know, we kind of just represent,” said Fontilea. “We’re not just representing ourselves as a school. We’re representing the whole city. That’s what makes us unique. Homecoming is a great way for [the community] to come together and just have some fun.”
The event also offered a makeshift archery range beside the Walter Pyramid, where participants were taught how to shoot and hopefully pop one of the balloons pinned to the targets. One of the more popular booths was the wax hands stall, where attendees could get a wax mold of their hand and dye it any color of their choosing. Homecoming also extended beyond Lot 13 and into Lot 14A, where tailgaters celebrated with their own music, snacks and games.
Alcohol was not served outdoors this year due to permitting conflicts.
Richard Hind, “golden graduate” of 1967, and his wife, Gracie Hind, graduate of 1969, attend homecoming every year. Richard Hind became a golden graduate this year which is a group of alumni who graduated fifty or more years ago and contributed to the growth of the university. The couple said they live in the area and they continue to attend each year to see old friends and changes made to the campus. “We’re taking the tour around campus to see things that, gee, have happened in fifty years,” said Hind, regarding activities he looked forward to at the event.
The campus tour shuttle, another returning feature, made stops at the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden and the University Bookstore to let alumni and guests embark upon the campus they might have known or might hope to know in the future.
Among other participants were companies such as Monster, Kind Healthy Snacks and Essentia Water. Booths for Amazon at the Beach, Associated Students Inc., 22 West Media and the Daily 49er were also present. The College of Continuing & Professional Education brought an ambulance for their Emergency Medical Technician program to the venue, where it remained for the rest of the day.
This year’s homecoming is called “The Beach is For Life,” but is not tied to a theme as it has been years before. Instead, it focuses more on school spirit, according to Jonathan Ibarra, Beach Pride’s lead student programmer for the event.
“We’re such a commuter school,” said Ibarra. “I feel [homecoming is] a way to celebrate that. It’s kind of celebrating how school is a home away from home.”