DeKALB – Will Hyde has NIU pride – and so does his family.
The student and marching band member had an honor few students throughout the tradition of the NIU homecoming parade get. He joined his parents and grandparents as grand marshals.
This year’s homecoming theme is Generations of Pride, and there may be no better example than the Hydes.
“It’s a huge honor for three generations of Huskies to come here,” Will Hyde said. “NIU has really been gaining some respect over the years, and it’s a big deal for us to come here and for NIU to honor us.”
Will Hyde’s mom, Ingrid Hyde, gushed about the influence NIU has had on her life. That’s where she studied art education. She’s now the art director for Harlem Consolidated Schools in Evanston.
NIU also is where she met Bill, her husband. The two became engaged on the grounds of NIU in 1993, the year they both graduated.
“It really shaped my future and my career,” she said. “I’m glad I can be here with my family.”
Will Hyde has followed in the steps of his dad, marching and playing trumpet for the Huskies.
“I think tradition is a big part of NIU history,” Will Hyde said. “NIU has always had a large homecoming. It’s a big part of our history and culture. It’s a great thing to involve yourself in.”
Bill Hyde said playing in the band during homecoming is a memory he treasures.
“I was in the marching band, so it was always big for us,” he said. “All the alumni come back and they just go crazy for you. That was typically the most crowded the stadium ever was, for the homecoming game.”
When asked if there’s going to be a fourth generation of Hyde Huskies, Will is quick to say yes. But his parents are quicker to cut off his answer.
“He’s got some time! No rush!,” they said in unison.
For many, the homecoming parade is emblematic of the university and community celebrating as one. That’s also the opinion of state Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley.
“It’s an opportunity for the community to come out and celebrate the institution, it’s mission, accomplishments and everyone who graduated from it,” he said. “It’s really a celebration of accomplishment.”
Pritchard said that while homecoming festivities are a time for NIU to maximize school spirit, the community also benefits from the thousands of visitors.
“This is a major event,” he said. “The community benefits economically. It really stimulates the local economy. ... The community realizes that the university is here 365 days a year. Students, faculty and staff shop here and live here and really play a big part in the community. I think homecoming is a visual representation for what the see every day.”
Homecoming weekend also means more work for local police. Large celebrations also mean rowdiness.
“We focus on the rowdiness, but we see all of the above,” said DeKalb police Cmdr. John Petragallo. “There is a huge influx of people who come from out of town to the game and to have a good time. A lot of who comes into town are nonstudents. We have a spike in activity, responses to calls, violent crimes.”