90 Things to see and do at Homecoming

September 28, 2011
90 Things To See and Do at Homecoming

Thousands of Baylor alumni will descend upon Waco November 4-6 for Homecoming 2011. Some will have returned every year since graduation; others will be setting foot on the Baylor campus for the first time in five, 10, even 20 years or longer. Regardless of how long it's been since you've visited Baylor, there's likely something new you haven't seen or done before -- and at the same time, plenty of old favorites to revisit and traditions to enjoy. With that in mind, Baylor Magazine presents ...

6 things that are still the way you remember them

  • Baylor's Homecoming Parade is believed to be the largest in the nation; last year's parade included 13 student-made floats and a total of 138 entries. (Did you know the floats remain lined up in front of Waco Hall from the parade's end through Sunday afternoon?)
  • The Bonfire and Pep Rally bring thousands of Bears together on Fountain Mall the night before the big game. In recent years, a fireworks show has wrapped up the rally.
  • With four shows over three nights, Pigskin Revue features the best of All-University Sing's Broadway-style acts, including this year's first-place winner, "Welcome to Your 80s, Ladies" from Pi Beta Phi.
  • Since Baylor moved to Waco in 1886, Burleson Quadrangle has been the heart of campus. The classic architecture has become the model for all Baylor buildings.
  • If you look down at the sidewalk as you tour campus, you'll find that students still communicate with one another through "chalking." Primarily used by student organizations, messages written in chalk all over campus let students know what's going on.
  • The Judge Baylor statue is still a popular place for photos. Whether it's prospective students visiting BU for the first time, current students preparing for graduation, or alumni and their families upon returning to campus, Judge Baylor's lap has been the site of more photographs than any other landmark on campus.

16 things you probably haven't seen at Baylor

  • The Vara Martin Daniel Fountain features the four spokes of the Welcome Week wheel in a new water feature (outside Carroll Science and just off Traditions Square).
  • The National Pan-Hellenic Council Garden includes monuments honoring the history and heritage of Baylor's African-American fraternities and sororities (between Marrs McLean Gym and Marrs McLean Science Building).
  • Construction continues on the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC), which is taking shape inside the old General Tire facility north of campus. By 2012, the research park will include research space for Baylor science and engineering programs (600 S. Loop Dr.).
  • The School of Social Work took its students from campus to a new location downtown, where they can more easily serve the local community and where the Baylor name now stands high above the city's center.
  • An expanded riverwalk now spans the length of the Brazos from Cameron Park all the way to the Ferrell Center -- ideal for walkers and joggers.

If it's been five or 10 years since your last Baylor visit, you may also want to check out these recent additions:

  • Highers Athletics Complex and Simpson Athletics and Academic Center (opened 2008) and Allison Indoor Football Practice Facility (2009),
  • Immortal 10 Memorial (2007),
  • Paul L. Foster Success Center (2007),
  • Brooks Village Residential Community (2007),
  • Willis Family Equestrian Center (2006),
  • North Village Residential Community (2004),
  • Baylor Sciences Building (opened 2004),
  • Stacy Riddle Forum (2003), and
  • George W. Truett Theological Seminary (2002).

3 things that are the same -- but different

  • The Bill Daniel Student Center (SUB) was the center of renovation last summer. The Bear Market Food Court was expanded to add new offerings (see 12 places to eat on campus), and the Den Lounge has a completely new look (but still features those comfy couches and big screen TVs).
  • The roadways running the length of Fountain Mall have been removed as Baylor continues to become more pedestrian friendly.
  • Dedicated during Homecoming Weekend 2005, the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat replaced the previous bear pit as the home to Baylor's two live mascots, Joy and Lady, and is the most-visited site on the Baylor campus.

6 places to get your Baylor gear

  • The Baylor Bookstore (Fifth St. Parking Facility) is your Homecoming headquarters and the flagship location for Baylor merchandise. Whether you're looking for a t-shirt, car decal, Baylor cowboy boots or a BU garden gnome, this is the place. It's also the headquarters for Baylor Homecoming sweatshirts, t-shirts and fleeces.
  • UBS Bookstore (500 Bagby) and Spirit Shop (1205 S. 8th St.) offer additional options in two locations bordering campus.
  • QTI Powers/Bear Cotton (1400 Speight), W Promotions (906 Austin) and Congress Clothing (1218 Speight) each design and sell Baylor apparel that you won't find anywhere else.

12 places to eat ON campus (that aren't dining halls)

  • The newly expanded Bear Market Food Court in the SUB now includes Einstein Bros. Bagels and Mooyah burgers, plus Chick-fil-a, Quiznos and Ninfa's.
  • The Baylor Sciences Building also has two new offerings this fall: Which Wich Superior Sandwiches and Moe's Southwest Grill.

    [the opening of Which Wich and Moe's has been delayed -- Sorry for any inconvenience ]

  • Seasons Sushi in the North Village Residential Center offers all your favorite rolls, made daily.
  • The first Chili's Too to grace a college campus resides in the Dutton Avenue Parking Facility (affectionately called the "Garage Mahal").
  • If it's caffeine you're looking for, visit the Starbucks next to Chili's Too or a new second location in the Allbritton Foyer of Moody Memorial Library.
  • Friday from 5-7 p.m., members of the classes of 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 or 2006 should join the Baylor Alumni Network for Reunion Buffet Receptions on campus. (Register at baylor.edu/homecoming.)

9 gameday traditions (new and old)

Animation of Baylor Homecoming
  • Whether bringing an RV and going all-out or just coming a few hours early, tailgating at Floyd Casey Stadium has grown dramatically in recent years. Alumni, students, even businesses have gotten in on the action all around the stadium.
  • Adjacent to the tailgating is Snickers Touchdown Alley, which opens three hours prior to each game and offers inflatable games, TVs showing games from around the nation, concessions and more. Make sure to stop by the Baylor Alumni Network tent for fresh-grilled burgers from Fuddruckers, to meet Baylor legends and watch John Morris and guests during the pre-game show.
  • Two and a half hours before kickoff, welcome the team to the stadium with the March of the Bears. Fans line a path from the Baylor Alumni Network tent through the tailgating area to the stadium to cheer on the Bears.
  • Around the stadium, the Grant Teaff Plaza (completed in 2005) provides an open entrance to Floyd Casey and tells the history of the winningest coach in BU history. Banners around the stadium honor many of Baylor's all-Americans, from Barton Koch in 1930 to J.D. Walton in 2009.
  • After tailgating, make sure you're in your seat to see the Baylor University Golden Wave Marching Band enter the stadium in style, followed by the running of the Baylor Line. Comprised of more than 3,000 freshmen, the Line is bigger than ever.
  • In today's evolution of the Eternal Flame, torchbearers representing each current class (freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors) light the Bonfire on Friday, carry the flame through the parade on Saturday and then light a special flame at the game just before kickoff.

7 old favorites (and 3 new ones) for OFF-campus eating

  • George's Restaurant (1925 Speight) remains the same laid-back place known for its chicken-fried steak.
  • Vitek's BBQ (1600 Speight) now offers an expanded dining area where customers can keep up with the day's sporting events on five flatscreen TVs while enjoying a traditional Gut Pak.
  • Common Grounds (1123 South 8th St.) is as popular as ever, both for its coffee and its comfort. You might also enjoy the expanded backyard area and the renovated interior.
  • Baris III Pizza and Pasta (904 N. Valley Mills Dr.) offers true mom-and-pop Italian food. That's no exaggeration; Mama Baris will likely be at the cash register to accept your bill.
  • Health Camp (2601 Circle Rd., on the Circle) is a true 1950s burger joint. Don't forget to wash down your Healthburger with one of the best milkshakes around.
  • The Elite (2132 S. Valley Mills Dr., on the Circle) has welcomed Waco visitors (including Elvis Presley) since 1919 with a traditional American menu.
  • Poppa Rollo's Pizza (703 N. Valley Mills Dr.) offers one of the more eclectic dining options in Waco, from the Three Stooges films usually playing on the big screen TV to the hidden party room in back.
  • Shorty's Pizza Shack (1712 S. 12th St.) is one of the newest entries to the Waco scene, offering single slices and full pies. Owner Ted "Shorty" Browning, a 2001 Baylor grad, opened the restaurant in February.
  • The Olive Branch (215 South 2nd St.) has moved twice since opening in 2003, but the bakery and café owned by 1998 Baylor graduate Leah Stewart has found a home downtown near Ninfa's and Cricket's.
  • Oso's Oh So Good Yogurt (215 Mary St.), is one of several frozen yogurt spots to pop up across Waco in the past year or so. The location -- run by Baylor football coach Art Briles' wife, Jan, and daughter, Staley Lebby -- offers self-serve options and toppings for mixing.
Animated Drawing of Waco Landmarks


3 sites for family fun

  • Past, present and future Baylor students can enjoy Extravaganza in the hours leading up to the Bonfire and Pep Rally on Friday night. With rides, inflatable games and more, Extravaganza creates a carnival atmosphere in the heart of campus.
  • The first floor of the Mayborn Museum Complex tells the history of Central Texas (including a special exhibit on the Waco Mammoth Site), while the second floor offers 16 themed Discovery Rooms for hands-on learning.
  • Covering 52 acres adjacent to the Brazos River, the Cameron Park Zoo nearly doubled its animal population with the 2005 opening of "Brazos River Country," then further expanded in 2009 when the "Asian Forest" exhibit opened.

6 uniquely Waco attractions

  • From the birthplace of the world's oldest major soft drink, the Dr Pepper Museum tells the history of not only DP but the soft drink industry as a whole.
  • The 400 acres of Cameron Park offer one of the best natural trail systems in Texas. Whether jogging, hiking, mountain biking, or just out to enjoy nature, the park offers something for everyone.
  • Newly expanded with an entire wing dedicated to the old Southwest Conference, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame highlights hundreds of the state's top athletes from college and professional sports.
  • Open to the public and nearing National Park status, the Waco Mammoth Site provides a glimpse into the Pleistocene Era. A breathtaking dig shelter houses an active dig site where the remains of 23 Columbian mammoths have been found.
  • Today a Waco icon, when it was completed in 1870, the Suspension Bridge was the longest single-span suspension bridge west of the Mississippi.
  • The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum was appointed by the Texas Department of Public Safety as the "Official Museum" of the legendary Texas Ranger lawmen in 1968.

7 little details worth noting

  • The Baylor banners on memorial lampposts across campus highlight the university's schools and colleges and add an extra touch of green and gold to the landscape.
  • A number of paved areas around campus have been turned into green space in recent years. The most notable one is the former Ivy Square shopping center on the corner of University Parks and I-35; others include the old Texaco and shopping center between Martin/Brooks and I-35, and parking lots next to Russell Residence Hall and Marrs McLean Gym.
  • As you walk through North Village and Brooks Village, look down at the Scripture verses and other inspirational quotes from famous leaders inscribed in the sidewalks.
  • Also at your feet are the commemorative bricks lining Burleson Quadrangle, the Williams Bear Habitat walkway and the Dutch Schroeder Athletic Plaza between the baseball, softball, tennis and soccer facilities. Look for bricks honoring your friends, family members or favorite professors!
  • As you head to Pigskin, take a look at the panels decorating the Waco Hall foyer that celebrate the long partnership between Baylor and Waco.

12 places to worship as the Baylor Family

  • Wednesday night, the annual Homecoming Worship Service at 7 p.m. on Fountain Mall will be followed by a concert celebrating the 60th anniversary of Word Music. Word artists Chris August and Sidewalk Prophets headline the concert honoring the groundbreaking company, which was founded in Waco in 1951 by Baylor graduate student Jarrell McCracken.
  • Featuring music from all generations, Singspiration -- held Friday evening before the bonfire -- has been a Baylor Homecoming tradition for more than 60 years. This year's musical guests will include three Baylor student choirs and the Baylor alumni choir.
  • Five chapels provide sacred spaces all across the Baylor campus. Chapels in the Bobo Spiritual Life Center, Tidwell Bible Building (Miller Chapel), Brooks Village (Robbins Chapel), Memorial Residence Hall (Memorial Chapel) and Truett Seminary (Powell Chapel) offer quiet getaways in the midst of the Homecoming hubbub.
  • Sunday morning worshippers may choose to visit any of hundreds of Waco churches. First Baptist Waco has long been home to many Baylor Presidents. Seventh and James Baptist Church borders Baylor's campus to the east. Highland Baptist Church, University Baptist Church and Antioch Community Church feature three of the city's largest college groups, each involving hundreds of Baylor students.