There’s No Place Like the Valley

Courtesy / The Yellow Bicycle Cafe
Memebers of the local band Lower Class Saints performing at the Yellow Bicycle Cafe.

Courtesy / The Yellow Bicycle Cafe Memebers of the local band Lower Class Saints performing at the Yellow Bicycle Cafe.

Jackie Smith

Follow the yellow brick road! Grand Valley State University’s Homecoming theme has been chosen for the 2013 school year, and the winner is “The Wizard of Oz: There’s No Place Like the Valley.”
The process of choosing a Homecoming theme was entirely student-driven.

“There was a contest that was held where students and alumni could submit ideas,” said Chelsea Pulice, a staff member who works at the Office of Student Life. “Two representatives from the Office of Student Life and Alumni Relations met and narrowed down the submissions to the top four. Students could then vote, and from there the theme was decided.”

Marvis Herring created the winning theme for GVSU’s 2013 Homecoming and was surprised when he found out that his idea was the winner.

“I was really surprised that my theme won because I’m sure there’s a good amount of other creative themes out there,” Herring said. “The organizers tweaked it a little bit and I think that no matter which theme was picked, GVSU will have a fantastic homecoming week. I’m just glad to help because Homecoming is one of my favorite parts of being a Laker.”

Herring’s theme was one of the many themes in the running. Other competing themes included “Back in Blue,” a Rock ‘n Roll theme, “Grand Valley Field of Dreams” and “Laker Galaxy.”

Herring said his inspiration for the Oz-themed idea came from his desire for the theme to be familiar to GVSU students.

“‘The Wizard of Oz’ theme came to my head when I tried to think of a movie that was an ‘oldie but goodie’ that most college students saw when they were younger,” Herring said. “I also thought it offered endless opportunities for the organizers to plan cool games and for participants to create awesome lip sync performances.”

Alexis Rangel of Alumni Relations and Pulice were the two who ultimately chose the winning theme. Rangel said it was hard to choose a winner with such a variety of creative ideas, but a winner had to be chosen.

“There were some very creative ideas so it was a close vote by students and faculty/staff,” said Rangel. “In the end, ‘There’s No Place like the Valley’ came out ahead, winning 38 percent of the votes.”

Overall, all those involved in the choosing of the Homecoming theme believe that it will be a hit.

“We’re very excited to run with this idea for Homecoming,” Rangel said. “There’s a lot you can do with it and it gives me an excuse to watch the movie again, and again. It’s also a perfect representation of what Homecoming is all about—creating camaraderie among students and welcoming back our alumni to GVSU, a place that always feels like home.”

As for Herring, he hopes that GVSU students will enjoy the theme that he has come up with and will just have fun during Homecoming.

“I think the theme gives college students a chance to revisit their younger years when we were scared that flying monkeys were going to take us away to the Wicked Witch of the West,” Herring said. “I’m sure there is no theme that everyone will be overjoyed with, but everyone knows about ‘The Wizard of Oz’, ‘The Wiz’, [and] ‘Wicked’ so I think it should go over pretty well.”
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