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The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

New telehealth counseling option set for fall
New telehealth counseling option set for fall
Bri Hunter, Editor in Chief • May 14, 2024

The University is extending on-campus mental health services for the next academic year through a company called TimelyCare.  TimelyCare...

PHOTOS: Baseball sweeps Valpo in last home series
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Rebeca Mertins Chiodini, Photo Editor • May 14, 2024

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New telehealth counseling option set for fall
New telehealth counseling option set for fall
Bri Hunter, Editor in Chief • May 14, 2024

The University is extending on-campus mental health services for the next academic year through a company called TimelyCare.  TimelyCare...

PHOTOS: Baseball sweeps Valpo in last home series
PHOTOS: Baseball sweeps Valpo in last home series
Rebeca Mertins Chiodini, Photo Editor • May 14, 2024

The Racers swept the Valparaiso Beacons in their last home series of the season. With these three wins the Racers move into a 34-18 record...

Tent City founder reminisces about early days of event

Patti+Jones+puts+up+a+welcome+banner+at+the+first+Tent+City.+Photo+from+1990+The+Shield.
Patti Jones puts up a welcome banner at the first Tent City. Photo from 1990 The Shield.

For 34 years, Murray State’s Homecoming celebration has featured Tent City, an event where today, over 30 tents line the track of Roy Stewart Stadium, providing participants with live entertainment, food and so much more.

While Tent City has transformed immensely since the original one in 1989, Donna Herndon, former alumni director and brains behind the event, said she never imagined Tent City would transform into the Murray State tradition it is today.

Before Tent City was suggested, in its place had been a formal alumni-only banquet, which didn’t appeal to younger alumni. With attendance tapering off, Herndon said she knew it was time for something to change.

“There wasn’t a central place for people to get together, and that’s what Homecoming ought to be, a chance to get together and renew old acquaintances,” Herndon said. “So I persuaded the Alumni Council to try something different.”

Thus, the event Tent City was born, albeit differently than what it is now. The original Tent City wasn’t held in the stadium; it was instead on the corner of North 12th and Highway 121, where the Murray State brick signage now stands.

Because of the newness of the event, Herndon was unsuccessful in her attempts to persuade Greek organizations to participate, as they were used to organizing their own events.

For it being the first of many to come, the event saw around a thousand people, which Herndon said was proof that Tent City was just what homecoming needed.

“It just continued to grow as more and more of our young alumni realized there was something for them,” Herndon said. “My big focus during Homecoming was trying to get people to come, to keep the tradition alive.”

Herndon served as alumni director for 11 years before retiring in 1991. Photo courtesy of Donna Herndon.

Since Herndon’s retirement in 1991, Tent City has only gotten bigger, becoming the beloved Homecoming tradition we all know and love, with former and current students wandering the numerous tents and reuniting with their Racer family.

“I think [Tent City is] the most significant thing that has grown out of my 11 years as alumni director,” Herndon said. “It affects thousands of people. I’m just really, really proud of that.”

Current Alumni Director Carrie McGinnis said University organizations like to change up Tent City from year to year.

“??For many alumni, Tent City is the place to go during Homecoming to see any and all of the people they have returned to campus to see all in one place at one time,” McGinnis said. “A walk through Tent City is like a stroll down memory lane.”

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About the Contributor
MacKenzie Rogers
MacKenzie Rogers, Lifestyle Editor
MacKenzie Rogers joined the staff of The News in Fall 2022. Rogers is a junior studying creative writing and journalism. She spends all her spare time reading, writing and playing video games.

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