University of Illinois: Mary Henson named Homecoming Parade grand marshal

Mary Henson, the wife of the legendary Fighting Illini basketball coach and ambassador Lou Henson, will serve as grand marshal of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 2021 Homecoming Parade.

The parade will take place Saturday, Oct. 9, at 11 a.m. The shift from a Friday parade to Saturday morning will provide broader access for the community in general as well as for early arriving fans for the Homecoming football game versus Wisconsin at 2:30 p.m.

The Hensons in 2020 were selected as honorary alumni by the University of Illinois Alumni Association. All 2020 UIAA award winners will be honored this year at the UIAA Gala on Thursday, Oct. 7.

“Mary Henson is one of the greatest treasures the U. of I. has ever known. I can think of no greater cheerleader, fan, advocate and sweetheart of our Fighting Illini,” said Jen Dillavou, the UIAA president. “It was with great pride that the awards committee of the University of Illinois Alumni Association named Mary and Lou honorary alumni of the university.”

Lou Henson died in July 2020 at age 88. The winningest basketball coach in Fighting Illini history, he was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

Parade street closures

Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, several campus-area streets and intersections will be closed until the parade ends at noon. The route begins at Goodwin Avenue and Oregon Street in Urbana, traveling south on Goodwin, west on Gregory Drive to First Street and ending at First and Kirby Avenue.

To view the parade route and street closures, see this map on the homecoming website. Staging for the parade will take place on Gregory Street in Urbana, between Illinois Street and Oregon Street. At noon, all streets and intersections will reopen.

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