Growing up in San Diego and going to a small private school, I was always in awe of the big homecoming dances that appeared in movies or on TV shows; the football games, the cheerleaders, the extravagant dance (similar to a prom) that would follow. Guys would go to extraordinary lengths to ask out their dates, and girls would dress up in long sparkly dresses. My school, on the other hand, had no homecoming. Our football field wasn’t even long enough to be considered regulation for games, so our team had to play at fields nearby. We had no cheerleading team, and certainly not a student population large enough to fill a dance hall. I never witnessed the extravagant homecoming proposals, with big posters or students breaking out in song. So did I miss out on some momentous occasion? Is Homecoming all it’s made out to be? I’m sure you might be looking forward to your own homecoming; the spirit week, pep rallies, and dancing, but do you know how it all started?
Homecoming began in the 19th century as a way to celebrate alumni returning “home.” There would be a big football game, and students, alumni, and community members alike would support the team. It was a way to bring a school or a community together. University of Missouri-Columbia is credited with its invention in 1911, when Coach Chester Brewer invited alumni to return home for the football game. With the large turnout of graduates, it was considered a huge success, and inspired similar celebrations across the country.
Today, celebrations usually include football games played on the home field, activities for alumni and students, parades, tailgate parties, dances, and a homecoming court. The football game is arguably the most important event out of the festivities. At most universities, tailgate parties are set up in stadium parking lots, where the community joins in barbeques, games, music, and socializing. Most high schools and many colleges have Spirit Week, where students dress up according to a different theme each day. The dance is the final major event, in essence the culmination of the previous week’s activities. There is also the homecoming court–a group of students chosen by their peers to serve as royalty. It includes a King, Queen, Princes, and Princesses. Parades include the school’s marching band and floats made by different student organizations.
So did I miss out? Well, yes and no. My high school had other special events, including prom, and we had great school pride and spirit. And, I’m now getting to enjoy homecoming events at the university I attend.
Homecoming is a way for community members and students to come together and celebrate a mutual pride for their schools and towns. You don’t have to be a football player or cheerleader to participate in the festivities, and you certainly don’t need a date to take you to the dance. It seems like homecoming can be as momentous as you want it to be. If you’ve been preparing enthusiastically for spirit week and homecoming or have been waiting for the perfect night to get dressed up and dance, then homecoming can be absolutely magical. Go find that perfect dress, heels, and accessories! This can be your chance to show off that special dress you have been dying to wear, whether it’s short or long, halter or strapless, sequined or patterned. (And, if you’re on a tight budget, you can even purchase a reasonably priced, yet beautiful preowned dresses online from promagain.com.) Homecoming and school spirit are truly whatever you make of them, so enjoy!
And if your school doesn’t have a homecoming like mine didn’t, it just means that your community celebrates in a different way, and that there are other opportunities to have fun and feel pride in your school. (And other opportunities to dress up too!)
Photo Credit: Creative Commons