Daily Collegian - Homecoming halftime acknowledges alumni and court

Theta Chi fraternity and the Society of Women Engineers emerged as the Overall Homecoming Winner at the halftime show of Saturday’s football game, capping off a week of victories for the Homecoming 2011 pair.

They also took first place in the Homecoming Parade and second at the For The Glory Talent Show, and were recognized for their achievements in a show featuring Penn State fans both young and old.

More than 650 Penn State Blue Band members took to the field, in both the current Blue Band and in the Alumni Band, full of past graduates ready to show off their still-fresh musical abilities.

Past feature twirlers and cheerleaders also made themselves a part of the show, waving their hands and smiling enthusiastically after being back on the field where they once started.

The current Blue Band kicked off the show, moving and weaving into a series of formations while playing Gloria Gaynor’s classic, “I Will Survive.” Before long, the Alumni Band raced onto the field, also using the diverse crowd to play Aretha Franklin favorite, “Respect.”

The bands then conjoined to finish with traditional finale piece, “The Nittany Lion,” as the stadium slowly raised their voices in unison to the familiar tune and words.

Amanda Smith said having the Alumni Band come back was really cool. She also liked this weekend’s S-Zone, which was pink and black in honor of Penn State’s original colors.

“If we win today, it’ll be a good way to end my college career,” Smith (senior-broadcast journalism) said.

Saturday’s halftime show also recognized the 2011 Homecoming King and Queen, Rene Garcia and Paige Rothaus, as well as the entire Homecoming Court and Homecoming Executive Committee.

The court danced their way onto the field, with Garcia (senior-forensic chemistry) and Rothaus (senior-advertising) sporting their sashes and crowns.

“That was the first time it really hit me, that this was real,” Garcia said, of the on-field experience. “Plus, as cheerleaders, you’re not allowed to just walk on the grass whenever you want, so that was pretty strange, too.”

The Homecoming Court also got to share the experience with their families, many of who had never experienced a Penn State football game before.

Garcia’s parents watched the game from the west side of the stadium, snapping pictures and watching their son enjoy his final year at Penn State.

“It’s just unreal,” he said. “Standing on the field with the entire Homecoming Court, the camera zoomed in on your face, it’s pretty incredible.”

And for the Homecoming Executive Committee, Saturday marked the end of a long year filled with phone calls, emails and plans, said Alumni Relations Director Ariana Seidel.

“Whether it’s just coming a Penn State football game or your very first game with your parents or members of the court being recognized, it’s a really cool experience,” Seidel (senior-political science and English said. “To look around at 110,000 people and know that we're a part of something so great, it’s absolutely incredible.”