This weekend at Ohio University is Parents Weekend, a weekend full of events and activities for students and their families to attend.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the university has not held a Parents Weekend since 2019. This year, OU’s Division of Student Affairs (DOSA) aimed to rekindle the enjoyment present from previous family weekends, while still upholding safety precautions.
The events this year will include performing arts shows, a football game, a campfire and a hike. The entirety of the Parents Weekend events can be found on the OU events calendar, where students and parents can register for respective events.
Josh Gruenke, associate director of campus activities, said the planning for the events shifted from prior years due to the pandemic and time restrictions.
“Because of COVID, there really wasn't a lot of time for students to plan events, because they had just gotten back and Parents Weekend is pretty early this year and the room reservation process was late to getting open,” Gruenke said. “So, we felt like most of the programming for it needed to probably come from departments from DOSA. We tried to make sure that there were things going on that parents could come to and enjoy and not stress out students that are just getting back acclimated to campus that they had to hurry up and try to plan something.”
During Parents Weekend, OU’s Performing Arts and Concert Series hosts two shows. On Friday, there will be an improv show from Broadway’s Next Hit Musical, and Saturday will have comedian Joel McHale performing.
Andrew Holzaepfel, director of the performing arts and concert series, said the inclusion of Broadway’s Next Hit Musical was initially intended for Moms Weekend 2020 but was instead rescheduled for this year’s Parents Weekend. Holzaepfel said the show is exciting as it is entertaining for both older and younger generations.
“This is a rescheduled performance from (Broadway’s Next Hit Musical) but it still fits really well,” Holzaepfel said. “This is an improv, fun show. It's good to have broad appeal for both our students and our parents that are on campus for this weekend. We've had them here before, it's always well received on a family weekend. So we just brought it back.”
Each year, Holzeapfel said the performing arts and concerts series seeks out a particular comedian for Parents Weekend. This year, Hozeapfel said Joel McHale, comedian and actor, best known for his role on Community, was a perfect match.
“We've always leaned generally towards a comedian and Joel has always been on our list of artists that we've looked at in the past,” Holzaepfel said. “And when we were out looking for a comedian for this Parents Weekend, our available dates lined up when he was available. Since he was on our shortlist of artists that we'd love to have here, it worked out.”
Aside from the performing arts events, there will also be a football game. The Bobcats will take on Duquesne on Saturday, with kickoff starting at 2 p.m. OU students will get free admission to the game and parents will be able to purchase tickets in the student section if desired.
Jacob Rockoff, assistant athletic director for marketing and sales, described that the festivities will begin earlier in the day to excite everyone prior to the game.
“The doors open at 12:30, so an hour and a half before kickoff,” Rockoff said. “And even before then, we'll actually have a DJ outside of Peden Stadium for a tailgate and he actually went to Ohio University, so he's excited to be able to be out there and perform.”
This specific game, Rockoff said, will pay tribute to American soldiers in honor of Heroes Day. Due to the game occurring on September 11, Rockoff said there will be a moment of recognition for first responders during the game in honor of those who served on 9/11.
“We are going to be doing something a little bit different for Heroes Day at halftime, with it being the 20th anniversary of 9/11,” Rockoff said. “So we're going to be doing something to thank our first responders, rather than doing the normal swearing-in ceremony. It was the idea of the Army ROTC and I think it's going to be very meaningful at halftime to have a first responder recognition at that time.”
Rockoff said the ability for parents to join their kids at the football game is a bonding experience that will be enjoyable for both parties.
“It's culture-driven when it comes to just students’ parents coming out to Peden stadium enjoying football together,” Rockoff said. “It's really nice to be able to see, especially after school has been going on for a few weeks. I feel like it's a great atmosphere. And Parents Weekend all around campus (has) a lot of exciting activities going on. So it's definitely a big weekend for us every year.”
With all of the changes due to the pandemic, Gruenke hopes this Parents Weekend will offer a sense of normalcy and enjoyment for students and their families.
“I hope that parents are able to come and see campus and see their kids enjoying campus,” Gruenke said. “I'm happy that we're back in person and I'm happy that people are here. And I hope that we are able to provide some opportunities for our new Bobcats and returning Bobcats to share their OU experience with their families.”