GREENSBORO, N.C. — School officials at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University announced on Thursday the Greatest Homecoming on Earth will not happen this year.
"When I heard it this morning I [gasped]. If they would have said they were closing down one of the buildings, that's one thing but Homecoming? Oh no," said NC A&T alumna Sandra Hughes.
All in-person homecoming activities are canceled with the exception of the football game.
“After a great deal of discussion, we believe this difficult decision is the appropriate route to mitigate and reduce the potential spread of COVID-19,” said Teresa Davis, associate vice chancellor for Alumni Relations. “Although we are deeply disappointed we will not be able to honor this highly-anticipated tradition, we believe if we make the necessary sacrifices now, we hope to be able to see everyone next year, with even more anticipation, excitement and enthusiasm.”
Some alumni said they were expecting GHOE events to be canceled but it still came as a shock.
"Actually still to hear it is just suprising because you know, us Aggies look forward to it every year," said alum Terence Watkins.
The football game this fall is scheduled to take place on Oct. 31 with limited fans, depending on state guidelines.
According to NC A&T, the weeklong celebration draws more than 100,000 people each year and has an economic impact of more than $10 million.
"It's a pilgrimage, it's our mecca," said alumna Lisa Finklea, "Aggies are in the area for as much as 7 or 8 days depending upon what their schedules are so we're bringing our hard-earned dollars to Greensboro."
Homecoming week was to run Oct. 25 through Nov. 1.