The History of Homecoming
Dartmouth Bonfire: Homecoming is a tradition that has grown slowly through the decades. It is a time when students from different classes gather together to celebrate school spirit. In 1888, students from all four classes of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire built a bonfire to celebrate a baseball victory.
The Daily Dartmouth wrote: “It disturbed the slumbers of a peaceful town, destroyed some property, made the boys feel that they were being men, and in fact did no one any good.” Seven years later it was made official to celebrate class spirit. One visitor to the famed bonfire in 1914 was a young Winston Churchill.
Homecoming Games: The history of Homecoming Games can be traced back to the first recorded game in 1910 at the University of Illinois. Indiana also held one that same year, and Wisconsin and Missouri followed in 1911. In 1914, Arizona became the fifth school to sponsor such an event. Now almost every college and high school have special Homecoming Games.
The Start of the Weekend: During World War II, the Homecoming celebrations were scaled down. Around 1946, formal College events and the rallies, student parades and games were combined into a single Homecoming weekend where part of the tradition was the arrival of alumni to gather and reminisce.
Homecoming King and Queen: One of Homecoming’s most popular events began in 1947 with the election by the student body of the Homecoming Queen. As early as the 1930’s there were Princesses appointed but the election of the Homecoming King and Queen have become the accepted tradition.
While you are in high school and college, Homecoming is mainly about having fun and showing pride for your school. There are traditionally pep rallies, dances, a parade, a king and queen and of course the game. After you graduate, the meaning will change as it will be about showing support for the schools that gave you your start in life, and reunions with friends from all different classes (unlike class reunions which only involve the one year’s graduating class). This will be the time to start giving back. Many older alumni will donate money to help keep the school running and maintained. Homecoming is an event dedicated to school spirit and to keep the memories, past and present, alive.