Ball elegant, off-campus

Elegance met with the energy of school spirit at the Pepin Hospitality Centre on Wednesday night during the annual Homecoming Ball.

Jumbo screens and blown-up photos of the different Homecoming events decorated the grand ballroom.

Green and gold tablecloths were draped over tables.

Students dined on delicacies like shrimp, while others jammed out to the music.

“Compared to the Homecoming being in the gym last year, this is a complete improvement,” Christian Ramos, Homecoming Stampede director, said.

This year’s Homecoming Ball was the first to be held off-campus.

“We really wanted to make Homecoming more accessible to the Sarasota, Manatee, and St. Petersburg campuses this year,” said Courtney Butts, the director of the Homecoming Ball.

Food was provided by Outback Steakhouse and included a range of choices from steak to Ahi tuna.

Shuttle buses picked up students outside the Fine Arts Center and provided transportation to and from the ball.

“I felt like I had to get dressed up this year because it is in such a nicer place,” said Whitney Brown, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary social sciences. “I also came with a bigger group this year because the ball was off-campus.”

Midway through the ball, the DJ stopped the dancing students and flashing lights and gathered the crowd around the front of the stage.

The red curtains opened to unveil a backdrop resembling a starry night sky. Winners from the other USF campuses were introduced, followed by the Tampa court of Victor Velasco, crowned king, and Holli Silverman, crowned queen.

“This year’s Homecoming is the best yet,” said Jenna Kelly, a graduate advisor for the Office of Student Programs. “The atmosphere is more upscale, the food is delicious; it’s just very school-spirited.”

Anna Peters can be reached at (813) 974-6299 or