Alumni and friends of the University of Maine will gather online Friday through Sunday, Oct. 16-18, for what organizers describe as “the most unique Homecoming in UMaine’s history.”

As in the past, UMaine’s annual Homecoming — an event which normally attracts more than 10,000 visitors to Orono each October — will feature a variety of social events, programs, sports and entertainment. However, this year those activities will be presented as virtual events — both live and prerecorded — because of the pandemic-related health and safety precautions, according to a news release from UMaine.

“As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, turn those lemons into lemonade,” said Annie Cutler, vice president of the UMaine Alumni Association and Homecoming coordinator, according to the release. “It became evident months ago that Homecoming could not be held as an in-person event. So, with President (Joan) Ferrini-Mundy’s enthusiastic support, we’ve pulled together dozens of programs and activities that alumni and friends can enjoy from a cozy chair or couch at home.”

The UMaine Alumni Association has a long history of bringing people together in the name of Maine’s flagship university, and it will do it again this year, said Ferrini-Mundy.

“During the pandemic we’ve learned a number of lessons, including how to continue to gather, celebrate and have important conversations with people from all over, remotely, and the alumni association has been a leader in this area,” said Ferrini-Mundy. “We will miss seeing everyone on campus for Homecoming this year, but the online offerings will continue the tradition of bringing Black Bear Nation together.”

As detailed on Homecoming’s website, programming starts at noon EST Friday, Oct. 16, with a welcome and Q&A session with Ferrini-Mundy. It will be followed by a presentation by Habib Dagher, executive director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, who will explain and demonstrate the cutting-edge offshore wind power technology developed at the UMaine facility.

Other featured virtual programming on Friday includes an interview and Q&A session featuring Political Science Professor Richard Powell, UMaine 2020 Distinguished Maine Professor Award recipient; socials and presentations offered by a variety of academic departments; a dress rehearsal of the Pride of Maine Black Bear Marching Band; “Stargazing,” hosted by UMaine’s Versant Power Astronomy Center from its Jordan Planetarium; and a wide assortment of on-demand videos related to the university’s history and alumni.

Saturday’s agenda includes more virtual socials and gatherings. Black Bear Athletics will host a virtual “Tailgate Party,” along with a replay of UMaine’s 2018 Homecoming football game against Albany. University faculty members involved in COVID-19-related research will discuss and answer questions about the pandemic. Several academic units, alumni groups and clubs will hold virtual socials throughout the day. On-demand video programming will remain available, including the Collins Center for the Arts’ popular “Six Picks” performance series.

Sunday’s offerings include continued access to all on-demand programming and online shopping opportunities featuring Maine crafters, the alumni association’s online store, and University Bookstore.