Greek yard displays are one of the oldest, most recognizable traditions of homecoming week at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
This year’s displays celebrate “150 Years of Our Grit and Our Glory” and can be viewed by the public throughout the afternoon and evening of Oct. 4. Maps will be available in the Van Brunt Visitor’s Center, Wick Alumni Center, Nebraska Union Welcome Desk and room 332 of the Nebraska Union.
Eli Soell, president of Theta Xi, is excited to show off his fraternity’s display after months of planning and designing.
“For this year’s theme, we are taking some bits and pieces from the popular movie ‘Back to the Future,’” Soell said. “On one half of our yard, we are going to have ‘Old Lincoln,’ so what the city looked like back in the day. In the middle of the display, we will have the golf cart that we have to incorporate into the float and turn it into the Delorean car that they used to time travel in the movie.
“On the right side, we will have ‘New Lincoln’ and what the city has transformed into. We really love the idea of showing transformation and growth, and ‘Back to the Future’ fit perfectly into the theme.”
Across campus, nine total displays are built by groups of different fraternities and sororities, also known as “triads.” Theta Xi was joined this year by fraternity Phi Kappa Theta and sororities Alpha Phi and Kappa Alpha Theta.
Most members lend a hand at some point throughout the week, and Soell estimates that up to 500 people contributed to Theta Xi’s display. Fraternity members typically create the frame and structure. Sorority members make the “pomp,” or rolled-up tissue paper that brings the designs to life.
Starting Monday morning, the construction is an all-day, all-night process, with some fraternity members even sleeping by the display to make sure it stays safe from rival sabotage.
“We turn it into a huge party and blast music constantly throughout the week to keep people energized and in good spirits, even into the late night,” Soell said. “We bring in energy drinks and food, and we just want to have a good time. It’s also fun to build relationships with the other houses we’re paired with that we might not have had before.”
While rivalry between the triads is intense, Soell says the competition is more about building a sense of pride on campus and uniting Nebraska’s Greek chapters together.
“It’s a long week, but once we get the finished product, it’s super rewarding to see the teamwork between all of our houses and members,” Soell said. “I think it shows a lot about Greek life at UNL when our chapters are able to come together with a common goal, figure out a plan and use all of our resources to make something truly amazing.”
He also encourages the public to get out and tour the displays, as well as take part in other homecoming festivities on the night of Oct. 4.
“The energy around campus during the week is second to none,” he said. “Being involved just makes you proud to be associated with the university and its rich history and call yourself a Husker.”