Homecoming is a time full of traditions, alumni and excitement, and nothing makes Ohio University feel more like homecoming than the decorations from Paint the Town Green competition.
Paint the Town Green is an Ohio Alumni Association (OAA) and Student Alumni Board (SAB) sponsored contest that challenges offices and businesses to create displays with an OU, Bobcat theme or the specific homecoming theme. The displays are then judged on a number of categories.
Beginning in 2002, Paint the Town Green was just for uptown, and there was a separate event for decorating the offices, but over time the two events have combined to form one overall expression of Bobcat pride.
Brianna Agner, the graduate assistant for OAA, works with the OAA interns to set up the entire event. This includes delegating jobs, contacting judges and getting the businesses and offices involved.
“It’s another way to get uptown and campus involved in welcoming back alumni and practicing their bobcat pride,” Agner said.
The decorations are judged on three categories: creativity, spirit and representation of homecoming theme, which is “1804 and So Much More.”
Within those categories, the judging is broken down. In the spirit category, the sections include use of team mascots, OU colors and OU logo. In the creativity category, there are sections for artistic design, use of color and novel use of materials. In the representation of homecoming theme category, there’s “1804 and So Much More” use, references to OU athletics, bobcats and alumni and a creative approach to the theme.
With all of the different categories, businesses and offices have a good chance of taking home some of the judges’ favor.
Kate Robey, a member of the OAA staff, judged the Paint the Town Green competition for the second time and feels proud to be a part of this event.
“As an alumna, as well as a staff and community member of the university, it gives me a great amount of pride that students and alumni, as well as community members, have the opportunity to celebrate connections and the university through all the festivities of the week,” Robey said.
Paige Kirby, a junior SAB member, is judging the event for her first time this year and loves how creative all the decorations are.
“The creativity is amazing, like the businesses have gone all-out for this and it’s just really cool to see what our uptown can do,” Kirby said. “The fact that the offices participate too just shows how we all stand together.”
This being the 17th year of the event, Agner recognizes the never-ending importance of a cohesive partnership between Athens and OU.
“Proximity-wise, we’re close to uptown and with so many local businesses around, I think it’s so important that we have this partnership, especially with our students roaming around and through Athens,” Agner said. “It’s important to have that partnership and spirit, overall, for Athens and Ohio University.”
Jessica Rutkowski, a senior studying strategic communication, is on the 2019-20 homecoming court, and helped contact businesses and offices interested in the event. She also helped organize the judges and materials needed to make decisions about the winners of the contest.
“I think the event is important because it gets the entire Athens community involved, which actually plays into the homecoming theme really well,” Rutkowski said. “‘1804 and So Much More’ means that during homecoming, we not only celebrate the school with ‘1804,’ but the entire community with ‘So Much More.’”
The uptown businesses and OU offices — like Ping Recreation Center, Dean of Students and Career and Leadership Development Center — as well as the rest of the homecoming participants, will find out who the winners of Paint the Town Green are at the Yell Like Hell pep rally.
More than anything, Agner, Robey, Kirby and Rutkowski believe this event is integral in building connections between Athens and OU.
“It’s a great opportunity to integrate everyone into the OU tradition,” Rutkowski said. “It also incentivizes business owners to celebrate OU by creating beautiful storefront displays that celebrate alumni coming back to the bricks, and I know that it’s those little things that can make an alumni’s day.”
Agner believes there’s no better way to get alumni, students and Athens residents in the spirit of homecoming than seeing all of the decorations around town and bonding over common ground.
“This event gives a cohesive welcome back and emphasizes the theme of homecoming,” Agner said. “I think it’s a really great thing for alumni and students to see. Everyone enjoys walking down uptown or through Baker and seeing the offices decorated, and I think it’s really nice to unite the community and campus through homecoming events.”