Eastern Illinois homecoming royalty a tradition for Tuscola family

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CHARLESTON — Eastern Illinois University’s homecoming brings current and former students together to celebrate their favorite college traditions.

For the Reifsteck family, being involved in homecoming has become a family tradition — and a busy week.

Stella Reifsteck, 4, was just crowned as this year’s “Lil Princess” for EIU’s homecoming court. In 2019, her older sister, Sofie, 8, held the same title.

The Reifsteck family dons Eastern Illinois University swag as they gear up for another rally of homecoming activities.

Athena Pajer

Their older brother, Evan, 10, was “Lil Prince” in 2016.

“We get to be chauffeurs for the weekend,” said Deborah Reifsteck, their mother.

As EIU homecoming royalty, each sibling attended the coronation ceremony, the homecoming parade and the football game in the past.

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Meanwhile, Deborah Reifsteck and her husband, Bryce, are also able celebrate homecoming as EIU alumni.

The pair, both from the Tuscola area, met as students at EIU, said Bryce Reifsteck.

“It’s neat that we met as students, got married, and now our kiddos can be involved, too,” said Deborah Reifsteck.

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Deborah Reifsteck completed her master’s degree at EIU and has been working as a fashion merchandising and design professor there for 15 years.

Children and grandchildren of faculty members at EIU can apply to become the homecoming royalty.

The three siblings each were elected as royalty throughout the years after being asked one question: What would be their superpower of choice and why?

Stella Reifsteck would like to fly so she can help save people — and to see her friends, she said.

Sofie would love to have kindness as a superpower to help save the world.

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Evan would like to be strong and fast, so he can be even better at something he really loves to do — play football. Evan also is involved in taekwondo and is about to start playing basketball.

Sophie enjoys gymnastics, cheerleading and dance. Stella also enjoys gymnastics.

The sisters have actually been Lil Princesses for two homecoming celebrations in a row, since many of the homecoming festivities were canceled last year in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Now we’re here in 2021, back to whatever this normal looks like, and they’re Lil Princess back-to-back,” said Deborah.

This was the first year that the homecoming court instead of the homecoming committee elected the Lil’ Princess and Lil’ Prince.

Homecoming activities will continue throughout the week, wrapping up on Saturday with the parade, football game and Distinguished Alumni Awards.

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