Queen's University homecoming changes under COVID-19

Homecoming is a major milestone for students at Queen’s University.

This year, due to the COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, many spent the day on Saturday in a much quieter event.

The Queen's homecoming weekend brings alumni back to town for one of the biggest celebratory weekends of the school year, along with large gatherings for current students in Kingston's University District.

Instead, this year, students like fourth-year Jordan Sheer tell CTV News Ottawa they plan to keep it smaller, focusing on staying with their households.

"The mentality this year is to just have as much fun as possible without putting ourselves or anybody else in danger,” says Sheer.

Second year student Sophia says the same.

"Obviously it sucks that we can’t carry on traditions, but you know what we have to make accommodations for this year," she explains. "It is what it is."

This year, all official Queen’s events hosted by Queen’s alumni are moved online for a virtual homecoming.

Big draws included a performance by Kingston’s own Gord Sinclair of The Tragically Hip.

Some still chose to have outside gatherings, and with the threat of the ongoing pandemic, Kingston police increased their presence in the area over the weekend.

Sgt. Steve Koopman says by Saturday afternoon, police and bylaw officers had issued multiple fines, including at least one $2,000 nuisance party bylaw fine.

"Some have had too much noise, some have been partying too hard, some have been partying up on the roof," Sgt. Koopman says. "We’re trying to make sure that we’re able to squash that."

It’s a stark contrast to past years, but while the gatherings have downsized, for those like Magnus Taylor and his friends, the Queen’s pride remains the same.

"It is homecoming, we’re going to have a bit of fun, but we’re going to keep to ourselves so we’re going to make sure we’re not putting anyone at risk," he says.