This week marks the 100th anniversary of UND's first homecoming and celebrates a century of grand parades, hard-fought football games, old friends and new memories.

Since its inaugural event in 1916, UND Homecoming has become an annual tradition for the university's passionate alumni.

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"It's their way of coming home," said DeAnna Carlson Zink, chief executive officer of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation. "That's what it still means for many of our alumni. This place holds a special place for many people."

Several schools claim to have hosted the nation's first college homecoming in 1910-11 - the University of Missouri, University of Illinois and Baylor University among them - but UND quickly followed suit. Since 1916, UND has celebrated homecoming in all but two years during World War II.

Stories in the school's student newspaper say it's been a success from the start.

"An annual Home Coming Day will do more for the promotion of this spirit of comradeship, of loyalty and of love than anything else we can plan," an early newspaper stated. "The students will be the better for it, the faculty will be the kinder for it, the alumni will be the stronger for it, the whole state will be the brighter for it."

For many alumni, homecoming is just that - coming home, where a full week of activities is ready to greet them.

On tap this year are the annual parade, football game, Sioux Awards banquet, UND President Mark Kennedy's inauguration and a homecoming dance.

The weeklong celebration has become a big deal at UND, Carlson Zink said.

"For students to see that there have been 100 homecomings on this campus ... shows a passion and love that the alumni continue to have for the university," she said.

Many local residents and businesses also celebrate by wearing green, putting UND memorabilia in their storefronts and by throwing out the welcome mat for alumni near and far.

"It's our way of carrying on tradition and telling the great stories and history of this great university," Carlson Zink said. "This is something we look forward to. It's an exciting time of year."

Homecoming hits

Monday:

• 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. near the Chester Fritz Library on the Quad: Kickoff lunch with free taco in a bag.

• 2 p.m. in Chester Fritz Auditorium: UND President Mark Kennedy's inauguration.

Tuesday:

• 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Memorial Union: Frozen feed with free ice cream.

Wednesday:

• 7 to 9 p.m. in Gorecki Alumni Center: Pep rally, coronation and free pizza.

Thursday:

• 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on UND campus: Homecoming Cash Cab.

• 5:30 p.m. in Alerus Center: Sioux Awards banquet.

Friday:

• 1 p.m. in new UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences: Building's grand opening, followed by ribbon-cutting and building tours.

• 7:30 p.m. in UND Wellness Center: Green Gallop 5K Glow Run.

Saturday:

• 10 a.m. on University Avenue: Homecoming parade.

• 1 p.m. in Alerus Center: UND football team plays Southern Utah.

• 8 p.m. in Gorecki Alumni Center: UND Homecoming dance featuring Post Traumatic Funk Syndrome.