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Homecoming Highlights 'Willie in the Windy City'

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Spectators of all ages were decked out in various shades of purple Friday evening as students, faculty, staff, alumni, North Shore Wildcat fans and families with young children lined up along Sheridan Road to cheer on participants in Northwestern University’s 2014 Homecoming Parade.

The light showers that started to drizzle didn’t seem to deter the majority of people who had gathered to watch the festivities. Some had brought canvas folding chairs from home to view the spectacle in comfort. A few diehard Wildcat fans brought their dogs to the parade, including University President Morton Schapiro. The Schapiro’s beloved pet joined the family in the parade’s lead car.

This year’s big parade attraction was Broadway, TV and film actress, singer and Northwestern University alumna Ana Gasteyer. The former cast member of the popular Emmy Award-winning late night television sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) returned to campus this past weekend to serve as grand marshal of the parade.

Gasteyer also announced the names of this year’s homecoming king and queen at the post-parade pep rally that was held in Deering Meadow -- the two acres of open green space between the Charles Deering Library and Sheridan Road. With a little more than 1,100 votes counted, the two “royal” winners were seniors Sean Earley and Lindsay Charles.

Earlier in the day, Gasteyer, a 1989 School of Communication graduate, was an honored guest during a Football Luncheon and an Alumni Panel for registered reunion guests and Northwestern students. (Both celebratory events were webcast live on the Northwestern University Alumni Association website at

She also spent an hour with a group of School of Communication students and guests in the John Evans Center to talk about her career. Rives Collins, associate professor of theatre, who once taught Gasteyer at Northwestern, moderated the conversation.

“It takes amazing tenacity to sustain a career in entertainment -- you work hard to keep that ball in the air,” said Gasteyer, who is also known for her roles as Elphaba in the stage musical “Wicked” and as Sheila Shay in the ABC television sitcom “Suburgatory.” “But the skills you learn from a liberal arts education like Northwestern prepare you for the long game.”

For more on this recent Homecoming event, visit

This year’s Homecoming, with the theme “Willie in the Windy City,” focused on Chicago. It featured floats and banners designed to depict Chicago life, including references to the city skyline, Al Capone and deep dish pizza. The parade included 13 floats representing various student organizations, city groups and University departments, 21 banners and the Northwestern University Marching Band (NUMB), NUMBALUMS Band, the Evanston Marching Kazoo Band, and three Chicago area high school bands. Special guest participants included Kathryn Mlsna, president of the Northwestern Alumni Association.

The Delta Delta Delta and Delta Tau Delta fraternities won the float prize of $350; Public Affairs Residential College (PARC) won the banner prize of $150; the sorority house directors received the prize in the “other” category for $150; and Hobart House Women’s Residential College won the School Spirit category for $100.

A total of 47,330 fans attended Saturday night’s sold-out prime-time Homecoming game between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Ryan Field. The game was televised nationally on the Big Ten Network (BTN). Nebraska beat the Wildcats 38 to 17. For a recap of the game, visit

Homecoming weekend was also Reunion Weekend for Northwestern alumni from the classes of 1954, 1959, 1964, 1969, 1974, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

In addition to celebrating on campus, reunion alumni show their support for Northwestern University with a Class Gift. This year the combined total for 2014’s classes was over $53 million, the second highest all-time. Northwestern also had a record-breaking 5,200 donors contributing to their reunions. The class of 1964’s 50th Reunion led the way in highest participation with 43 percent of the class supporting their gift. And the classes of 1959, 1979, 1984, 1989, 1994 and 2009 all set reunion records for their classes thanks to the outreach work of 393 incredible alumni volunteers.

For more Homecoming 2014, visit

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