More than 2,000 maroon-clad students ventured to Dalewood Avenue last Saturday to celebrate McMaster’s first ever “Fake Homecoming” or FOCO, one of the largest student street parties that the university has seen in years.
FOCO was planned in response to the university’s decision to move its annual Homecoming event to the weekend of Oct. 18, overlapping with the end of reading week.
The unsanctioned street party began as a Facebook event called “MAC FOCO 2019 – A new beginning”. According to the page, it had over 2,700 attendees. The party coincided with the McMaster Marauders’ 47-19 win against the Windsor Lancers.
While the reason for the timing change is likely due to the 2019 football schedule, students took it upon themselves to organize a replacement Homecoming event that satisfied their own schedule.
The Facebook event description stressed that although the McMaster administration had decided to move HOCO, this would not stop students from taking advantage of an opportunity to celebrate. Visitors to the page were told to come to Dalewood on Sept. 21 and show their school spirit.
The event attracted the attention of the Hamilton Police and the McMaster administration. A day before, both parties stated in a press release that they were visiting residences to remind students to respect the community.
The Hamilton police noted that they — as well as city partners — would have an increased presence in the neighbourhood to discourage anything and anyone that might be disruptive. Particular emphasis was placed on forbidding large parties and alcohol on the streets.
HOCO has a history of safety concerns and in previous years, there have been issues of students publicly urinating and disrupting neighbors and making inappropriate comments during HOCO concerts. In addition, one woman was run over by a police horse during Homecoming in 2018.
Fortunately, FOCO did not run into such problems. Hamilton Police closed off Dalewood between Main Street West and Westwood Avenue and used caution tape to section off homes not housing students or interested in participating. With the exception of a few medical calls and bylaw tickets, the police made no arrests.
Students remained respectful and enjoyed their time day-drinking on front lawns and walking down the street. Some students even helped clean the street after the parties subsided, earning the gratitude of the Hamilton Police. In addition, the MSU planned a litter pick-up on the street for the Sunday after.
On Twitter, the Hamilton police wrote, “A special thanks to these #McMasterU students for taking the time to clean up after today’s unsanctioned homecoming event in the Ainslee Wood/Westdale area in #HamONT. Thanks for being #good neighbours.”
FOCO also drew in other students from outside Hamilton.
“It was lit. I had a really fun time and I wasn’t worried about anything. Overall, it was really relaxing,” said Trevor Chang, a third-year Laurier student and regular HOCO participant.
The success of FOCO has encouraged some students to plan a similar event next year should McMaster’s annual Homecoming fall during reading week once again.
“It’s a cultural thing. Of course there will be another FOCO. If we want to, university students are going to plan something like this again,” said a McMaster student who wishes to remain anonymous.
Regardless, the event supports the possibility of over 2,000 McMaster students attending an entirely student-run Homecoming event with no major issues.