The University of Central Florida recently celebrated its 41st annual Homecoming Week with a series of traditions, charitable events, and entertainment that all led up to Saturday’s big game against the Southern Methodist University Mustangs. Though the festivities only took a few days to celebrate, the Homecoming Executive Board spent nearly nine months planning and preparing for UCF’s most anticipated week of the year.

Among the Homecoming Executive Board’s 15 student members were four Event Management majors from UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Senior Aryn Gallaher , juniors Leanza Altenderfer and Samuel Whitma, and sophomore Sydney Altfied each played significant roles in managing some of Homecoming’s biggest events.

“I could not have asked for a more enjoyable and exhilarating process,” said Whitman. “It definitely made it obvious to me that events is where I belong, and no other school could prepare me the way UCF has.”

According to Whitman, who served as Homecoming Week’s special events director, the Executive Board faced tremendous challenges throughout the planning process.

“The biggest challenge was easily the Comedy Knight move, when we found out Jim Gaffigan, our headliner, was stuck in New York because of Hurricane Sandy and couldn’t make our show on Tuesday,” Whitman added. “We were able to get Jim on a flight for a Thursday show,  and then had to re-plan the entire event and publicize the move. Our venue was also hosting the Black and Gold Gala that same day, so we had to flip the arena in less than an hour from a banquet style venue to a comedy club style floor, and ended up opening the doors on time to pack the arena.”

In addition to the comedy event, the Homecoming Executive Board also had to coordinate its Tailgate Zone, Movie Knight, Skit Knight, Service Day, Spirit Splash, and Concert Knight with headliner Snoop Dogg.

The Executive Board also had to coordinate the Homecoming King and Queen voting, which featured fellow UCF Rosen College student Mikyba Cooper, as a Homecoming Queen nominee.

“We had ups and downs, but we were able to overcome everything that happened,” said Whitman. “I learned that in our business it’s not about what happens during the process it’s about how you react to it, and our board did that better than anyone.”