Homecoming: A Good Time To Make and Bring Back Memories
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 15:10
Homecoming is one of the more memorable events that take place on campus each fall and some may be remembered more than others. Several days of celebration are climaxed by the football game, which has always been the centerpiece of it all.
Although it certainly doesn’t hurt to field a team that can absolutely obliterate the nation’s top competition, there are other traditions and happenings associated with the week that have been etched in the minds of those who have gotten to experience it.
The Bison may still figuratively be on fire following last Saturday’s romp in the dome, but almost exactly 60 years ago a large portion of the stands at old Dacotah Field literally burned to the ground only a couple of days after the Homecoming game.
Fortunately for NDSU, the blaze didn’t get in the way of its own festivities, but it flared up a problem for Concordia College, which was set to play their homecoming game at the site one week later. Perhaps this 1952 occurrence ended up overshadowing the parade, dance and game itself that year.
Pressing the pyro issues further, the week used to feature a pregame bonfire and in 1962 there was concern that somebody would light up the woodpile if it were built too soon. Since this tradition obviously no longer exists it would be interesting to know when and why it eventually ended.
They more than likely ignited a fire that year, but the Gold Star Marching Band lost their formation practice field to the construction of Burgum Hall and was therefore forced to stay seated in the stands for their halftime performance. These could be quirks that Alumni enrolled at the time my now bring up in conversation as they now enjoy retirement.
Fast forwarding another 10 years, the homecoming theme in 1972 was “Off and Running.” The mainstay activities, as they still are, were the heart and soul of the party, but there was a bit of a twist to this one. A nationally popular duo known as “The Carpenters,” who some of you may have heard of, was hired to christen the freshly finished Bison Sports Arena.
I got a chuckle out of a caption attached to a Spectrum report that read, “Karen Carpenter gets it on during the concert Saturday night. The sellout crowd loved the Carpenters concert and gave the brother-sister duo a standing ovation.”
This was an interesting choice for a college campus concert, but it probably lingers as a great memory for many.
While the football team had once again established itself as a top national power the year before, there had been a few changes homecoming that gave it a different flavor in the 80s.
Jackie Ressler, 1982 event adviser, probably said it best, “Our activities may not be new, but they’re improved to better fit the tastes of SU student’s.”
Those tastes seemed to be pretty consistent with a “Revenge of the Nerds” movie, but what could be more fun than that? Student activities were made up of competitive events such as nail pounding, log rolling, balloon shaving.
At the other end of the spectrum there was a kissing booth, near-beer chugging and a cussing contest. Despite all those things being a good time, the John Wayne and Dolly Parton look-alike contest might very well be the number one thing that students who were around then have stored in their minds.
Now that I’ve analyzed a few previous eras, let’s take a look at my own. NDSU Homecoming 1996 was the 75th anniversary it so just how did that one stack up with the original from 1921? Back then the main focus was for current students to reminisce with alumni. There definitely was some of this type of socializing going on during the ‘90s, but I can’t recall it being a priority.
We, no doubt, were entertained at the Homecoming Show sponsored by Blue Key, stayed up late doing what college students of a certain age do and then willfully drug ourselves to the next morning’s parade. Recharging for the game seemed to somehow take care of itself.
As alum I think back to those exciting times for the purpose of rekindling good feelings and wonder how my current fellow students will remember what they experienced last week. After moving on with your life, there’s a good chance that your attitude about homecoming week will be similar to what was written by Pamela Enz, who was the Spectrum Editor in Chief 16 years ago.
“It’s a week well suited for reflections of the past. This is the week when alumni return to their former haunts. They check out places they recall fondly (or not so fondly) and see faces of people they haven’t seen in years.”
But for now, continue to build on the memories that you already have and continue to create new. Since some will be forgotten, it’s best to come away with as many as you can.