Janelle Sauz at homecoming 2011
At festivities last year, Janelle Sauz, a fourth-year public health sciences major, laughs with fellow homecoming court candidates after a lunchtime rap competition. Michelle S. Kim / University Communications

Thousands of Anteaters return to campus annually for UC Irvine’s football-free homecoming festivities: a street fair, basketball game and dance party. This year, current and former students will gather on Saturday, Jan. 28, for the nontraditional tradition. Sponsored by the UCI Alumni Association , the Homecoming Street Festival kicks off at 2 p.m. on Mesa Road outside the Bren Events Center. It will – for the first time – offer cuisine from popular local food trucks, including two from the television show “The Great Food Truck Race.” A Frank Sinatra cover act and other entertainment, a beer garden, carnival games, and interactive booths are also planned, along with guest appearances by Peter the Anteater, UCI coaches and the 2012 homecoming court. At 5 p.m., the celebration moves inside the Bren as the UCI men’s basketball team takes on the UC Riverside Highlanders. A limited number of free tickets are available to alumni. After the game, Mesa Road will be the site of a dance party featuring DJ Geo-D. The week leading up to homecoming boasts a number of activities designed to instill pride, rally spirit and foster fun. Organized by Associated Students of UCI, events will be held noon-1 p.m. on the Student Center stage.

  • Monday, Jan. 23: Peter’s Parade gives homecoming court candidates a chance to turn Mesa Court move-in carts into decorated floats, which are judged on creativity, school spirit and other factors. The parade starts at the flagpoles and ends at the Student Center stage.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 24: “Manteater vs. Food,” UCI’s version of the reality show “Man v. Food,” pits coed teams of homecoming court contestants against each other in various challenges.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 25: Dressed in togas, homecoming court hopefuls pair up to compete in four “Anteater Olympics” events.
  • Thursday, Jan. 26: Homecoming court candidates recite original poetry and stories in the first “UCI Speaks” contest.
  • Friday, Jan. 27: For “Anteaters Got Talent,” homecoming court wannabes take their talents to the stage in three- to five-minute performances. Judges score their efforts based on UCI-inspired creativity and entertainment value.

As an added bonus, ASUCI announced it will make homecoming a “zero-waste” festivity – fun and environmentally friendly, to boot. Student volunteers will monitor recycling bins and help visitors sort their trash, with the goal of keeping 90 percent of it out of landfills.