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‘Who loves the University of North Dakota?’

‘WE DO!’ yelled fans by the hundreds, as the UND Homecoming Pep Rally came to a raucous finish in Town Square

Town and Gown in Grand Forks stood up to cheer on Thursday, as the Pride of the North Band, the UND football team and dozens of other varsity athletes paraded into a fan-packed Town Square to launch the first-ever downtown UND Homecoming Pep Rally.

“Thank you all so much for coming!” shouted UND Football Coach Bubba Schweigert from the bandstand to the crowd of about 400.

“We have got to make this an annual event!” Schweigert continued. “I want to thank the Downtown Development Association for putting this together, and how about a big hand for the Pride of the North Marching Band!”

UND President Andy Armacost added his thanks to the DDA, the UND Alumni Association & Foundation and others who’d worked hard to plan and produce the pep rally.

“This is the year of gratitude,” Armacost said. “This is a year in which we should thank everyone for everything they do to make UND such a great place, with such a great sense of community.

“And the best way we can show our thanks for all the student athletes this week is to come out and cheer them on!” the president said as the crowd cheered on in agreement.

Green and white balloons by the dozens bedecked the signature paddle wheel arch at the entrance to Town Square, and those UND colors also showed up on signs, banners, pom-poms and other displays.

A new mural on the wall adjacent to Town Square heightened the community spirit. Painted over the past few months by The Three Brushketeers (local artists Becca Cruger, Senta Grzadzielewski and Jamie Sebby) — and commissioned by the DDA and the University — the mural showcases UND, Grand Forks Air Force Base, the Smiley water tower and other civic themes.

Other enhancements the Town Square has received over the past few months also were on display. Local youth competed against UND football players at the park’s new cornhole set, while visitors tried out the new workout equipment, challenged each other in outdoor chess and warmed their palms over the portable fire pit.

The enhancements came thanks to a $100,000 Lowe’s Hometown grant that the Downtown Development Association had won, the Grand Forks Herald reported earlier this year.

Said Blue Weber, president and CEO of the DDA, to the Herald at the time, “We like to say everybody loves it (Town Square) 10 percent of the time when there are farmers’ markets and concerts and a skating rink.” But the other 90 percent of the time, the park could seem less welcoming; and that’s why the enhancements, the mural and the Pep Rally itself came about, to make Town Square a more family-friendly and usable space.

Mission accomplished, the speakers, the athletes, the fans and the hundreds of others at Thursday’s event seemed to agree. “What a great way to kick off Homecoming!” said DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation, from the bandstand.

“I love seeing all this UND green downtown and having a communitywide UND celebration. … So, I need some crowd participation to get us all warmed up for Saturday’s game! Who loves the University of North Dakota?”

“WE DO!” the fans in Town Square yelled.

“Who loves the University of North Dakota?”

“WE DO!”

“Who loves the University of North Dakota?”

“WE DO!”

Source: UND