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GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina A&T State University’s 2020 homecoming will take place in all virtual spaces this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. School leaders are preparing for what’s called “Stay at Homecoming.” It’s a chance for students and alumni to gather in the virtual realm.

The first virtual homecoming experience will allow anyone, including alumni, students and others, to engage with each other online through various scheduled events Thursday-Saturday.

“The organizers of our virtual I think have gone through great lengths to make it as interactive and participatory as possible. So, people will be able to take part in things like Aggie game night and university trivia,” Todd Simmons said.

The traditional way of celebrating homecoming is also impacting vendors and businesses who look forward to this every year.

“Our store is like a hub for Homecoming because we’ve been in the Four Seasons Mall for 31 years,” said Jackie White, the owner of African American Art and More.

Her business and others are bracing for the brunt of not having thousands of people in town for a traditional homecoming. They’re one of the few places outside of the school that sells Aggie Pride clothing. To try and keep some of the business, the owner is hosting a live sale on Facebook Thursday.

“I’m going to have items ready and sell them live just like they do on the home shopping networks. We had to be creative and think of other ways to bring those Aggies to us so that we can still see some of that profit,” White said.

In years past, G.H.O.E. has packed streets, hotels and restaurants, giving the area a $10-million economic boost. Carolina’s Finest Food Truck normally participates in the homecoming scheduled events and will miss the atmosphere of serving food to all the guests.

“It makes up a large chunk of my finances when it comes to this time of year and you know getting ready to head into the wintertime when it’s kind of slowing down, so this is like the last big market of the season for the food trucks,” said LaSonya Holmes Boulware, owner of Carolina’s Finest.

For a list of the scheduled events, click here.