BYU’s images of Homecoming 1998 will spin “On the Wheels of a Dream” as students, alumni, and friends of the university converge on campus in early October for a week of activities that include the traditional Homecoming parade and game, a Homecoming barbecue, several formal dances, the Homecoming Spectacular, and a closing fireside.
The idea for this year’s theme, “On the Wheels of a Dream,” emerged while the Homecoming Spectacular production team was creating a show to highlight a new Spectacular set, according to George Bowie, executive producer of the Spectacular and director of the Homecoming committee. As Michael G. Handley, the show’s producer and set designer, and Janielle Christensen, the artistic director, began to look at production possibilities to support the set design, they opted for the flavor of the Deep South and found themselves inspired by music that encourages people to rise above adversity.
Among the “glorious music with lofty lyrics,” as Christensen describes their choices, is a song from the current Broadway musical Ragtime that describes being on the wheels of a dream. “When we heard it, we knew we had captured the essence of what we wanted to present,” Handley said.
Selections from Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern’s Showboat will also be featured prominently during the Spectacular. Handley says this music represents those willing to pursue a dream.
“It is music that challenges us to be better people,” Christensen explains. “We are applying it to BYU students who are seeking their own pathways and finding their own wheels, so to speak, as they pursue the beginnings of their careers. We are using it with family values that suggest our children deserve to grow up feeling good about themselves. And we are applying it to Franklin S. Harris, who was president of BYU during a time of many challenges. He realized people needed to be nourished and that they had to be encouraged and uplifted as part of the educational process. It wasn’t just learning. He helped strengthen personality and character. He certainly spent his years at BYU on the wheels of his dream.”
In addition to being honored in the Spectacular, the legacy of Franklin S. Harris will be emphasized during Founders Day, which opens Homecoming week on Tuesday, Oct. 6. “We consider Homecoming an ideal time to remember our roots as an institution, a time when our alumni return to celebrate the university,” Bowie explains. “Founders Day also allows us to look at individuals who made deep contributions during those years. Within our theme of rising triumphantly from adversity, we have found many individuals who helped BYU become what it is today. Franklin S. Harris, who served longer than any other BYU president (19211945), took the university through a difficult period in history when it was financially strapped, when America went into a crippling depression, and during tumultuous events that led up to World War II. Harris is certainly worthy to be honored on Founders Day.”
Opening ceremonies in the Marriott Center on Tuesday, Oct. 6, will give the audience the first glimpse of the Spectacular set and show and will feature the Cougar Marching Band, a message from head football coach LaVell Edwards, and a greeting from BYU President Merrill J. Bateman.
Following will be a week of dorm-decorating competitions, baby contests, hikes up Y mountain, a southern barbecue, a series of lectures from honored alumni, and several reunions that give alumni a chance to reconnect with former classmates. Festivities also include the Back-to-School Lectures, an afternoon of motivational and educational presentations by BYU professors and others for alumni and their teenage and college-aged children. The week will conclude with a fireside on Sunday, Oct. 11.
“The week opens on a nostalgic note and ends with a spiritual note,” Bowie says.
For more information about Homecoming, contact the Alumni House at (800) 437-4663 or visit the BYU Alumni Association Web site.