UF to celebrate annual Homecoming and Gator Growl

UF mascots Albert and Alberta Gator in the UF Homecoming Parade on Friday.
UF mascots Albert and Alberta Gator in the UF Homecoming Parade.
Photo by Megan V. Winslow

The annual UF Homecoming & Gator Growl is slated to take place on Thursday, Oct. 5, in Exactech Arena with singer Jason Derulo headlining this year’s event.

The 100th year of the Homecoming & Gator Growl will start at 6 p.m. at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center (250 Gale Lemerand Dr. in Gainesville) with Sammy Adams opening and Johnny Townsend hosting. The concert will begin at 7 p.m.

According to a UF release, the event will feature the Homecoming Leadership Pageant, Gator GallopParadeSoulfestFestival and Gator Growl

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Derulo, an American singer and songwriter from Miramar, started his career in 2009 and has sold over 250 million singles worldwide He has 11 platinum singles and his song “Whatcha Say” went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2009. His June 2020 single “Savage Love” went viral on TikTok and the song’s remix reached No. 1 in the U.S.

Townsend is the executive director of the Johnny Townsend Foundation, which focuses on supporting pediatric patients at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. Townsend played for the Florida Gators football team as a punter from 2013-2017 and became UF’s all-time leading punter. He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders and played in the NFL for three years.

After Townsend graduated from UF, he founded his foundation to fulfill his goal of creating an organization to give back to his community. Since its founding in 2017, the Johnny Townsend Foundation has put on and sponsored multiple events, including Gator Gallop, and raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Shands and Gainesville community.

The general public and UF students can purchase tickets at www.gatorgrowl.org or at the O’Connell Center Box Office. For more information, follow UF Homecoming & Gator Growl on social media (@HCGatorGrowl) or visit the website at www.gatorgrowl.org.

The UF Homecoming Parade starts at noon and runs north along SW 13th Street next to the UF campus and turns right onto W. University Avenue.

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