Dexter Veige and his brother, Fletcher, sprawled out on a blanket on Flavet Field Sunday night, eating Lunchables and waiting for Swamp Symphony to start.
Soon, UF’s Jazz Band came onstage to kick off the event. Dexter, 3, threw down his Skittles and started dancing to the swing music, his 4-year-old brother following suit.
Swamp Symphony, put on by Gator Growl and UF Homecoming, featured UF Fine Arts performance groups, said director Michael Levey.
“We want to showcase the Fine Arts department because it’s so great at UF,” the 19-year-old telecommunication sophomore said.
The UF Jazz Band, Symphony Orchestra, Men’s Glee Club, Gospel Choir, University Concert Choir and Agbedidi Africa performed on Flavet Field’s stage.
Seven Homecoming Education Celebration awards were given to faculty and staff members in between the groups.
Judy Page, an English professor and director of the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research, won the 2012 Outstanding Faculty Award.
The Morrill Act Award went to Department of Agricultural Education and Communication professor Kirby Barrick, the Family Album Radio, and the faculty of the Department of Microbiology and Cell Science.
Dexter’s and Fletcher’s father, chemistry professor Adam Veige, won the 2012 Outstanding Mentor of Undergraduate Research Award, along with physics professor Amlan Biswas and interior design professor Maruja Torres-Antonini.
“It’s really an honor to receive this award,” Torres-Antonini said, holding the hand of her 18-month-old granddaughter, Tabitha, who spent her night running up and down the field in sync with the swells of the orchestra.
“She kept us warm,” Torres-Antonini said, referencing the night’s temperatures, which hovered in the 60s.
Audience members wrapped themselves in blankets and stuffed their hands into coat pockets as the temperature dropped with the sun.
Tucked in a hoodie and armed with a box of Cheez-Its, 18-year-old pre-pharmacy freshman Janelle Roberts shivered to the drumbeats of Agbedidi Africa. She heard the orchestra rehearsing earlier in the day and decided to come back to see the show.
“They’re all really talented,” she said.
Behind Roberts, the dean of the College of Fine Arts, Lucinda Lavelli, huddled in a Gators blanket.
Roberts flew in early this morning from a conference in Minneapolis to make the symphony.
“It’s so exciting to see the performers and hear the music on this wonderful field,” she said, adding that she was happy the audience toughed it out through the cold snap. “We can say the arts warmed us up.”