KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The theme of this year’s homecoming celebrations at the University of Tennessee will honor the beloved live mascot, Smokey X, before his forthcoming retirement.

A weeklong homecoming celebration is underway at the University and Tennessee, Knoxville, culminating with Saturday’s game as the undefeated football team takes on UT-Martin. This year’s theme is ‘Salute to Smokey,’ celebrating the retirement of Smokey X and the arrival of his successor Smokey XI.

Musicians Drew and Ellie Holcomb, who are both Tennessee graduates, will serve as the homecoming parade grand marshals. The parade begins Friday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m. from Fiji Island on Fraternity Park Drive.

Smokey X is the 10th dog to serve as the official mascot of Tennessee. He has served faithfully since his debut in 2013 and was present at the state Capitol Building when the Bluetick Coonhound became the official dog breed of the state of Tennessee in 2019.

He will be replaced by his one-year-old son, Smokey XI, who remains in training at this time.

Other homecoming events include a bonfire on Thursday, Oct. 20 at Fiji Island beginning at 7 p.m. The Southeastern Stomp Fest features performances by National Pan-Hellenic Council fraternities and sororities at the Student Union Auditorium on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday morning’s Homecoming Tailgate on the Student Union Plaza.