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September 23, 2011

Homecoming - A 90-Year Tradition

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Football, Parades, Queens, and Kings

The first issue of The Case Alumnus in 1921 included this announcement, “Alumni gather round. We old fellows are going to take the Case-Oberlin game on Nov. 12 to our bosoms as being a fitting and appropriate occasion on which to show the Case student body what real pep is, also to show ourselves an all around good time...” [1]

This is the earliest we’ve tracked CWRU’s homecoming traditions (so far - we haven’t exhausted all the sources yet). Over the 90 years of homecoming celebrations there’s been a remarkable continuity of events: fraternity, sorority, and academic department open houses; pep rallies and bonfires; float and car parades, with prizes for the best float; house decoration contests; dances, brunches, luncheons, and receptions; Homecoming Queen contests; and a football game.

But, as is true of most of our longest traditions, there have been some changes.

A football game wasn’t absolutely necessary to celebrate Homecoming. In 2007 soccer was the homecoming game. At Mather College, in the early 1930s, each senior invited an alumna to be her guest at the homecoming party. Cleveland College’s first homecoming was held in February 1929, at the Hotel Cleveland. It featured Sir John Adams, “world-known educator,” as the featured speaker. Some football games were not between varsity teams. CSAS’s 1921 homecoming followed the traditional varsity game with, as described in The Case Alumnus, “a football game of uncertain length, to be played by a short-winded and pot-bellied gang that used to think they could play football for Case... They will have as their opponents this year’s freshman team.” [1]

50 years ago, WRU’s 1961 homecoming budget was $1,288, including $1.00 for the parade permit, $90 for four kegs of beer, and $120 for fireworks and bonfire.

In fall 1967 the newly federated Case Western Reserve University was only a few months old. It took a few years for the Case and WRU programs and traditions to commingle. So the 1967 homecoming press release started, “For the second time in less than two weeks, Case Western Reserve University campus will be the scene of Homecoming festivities...” [2] Case’s homecoming was October 27-28 and WRU’s was November 7-11. Case’s homecoming football game was against Bethany College. Case lost 8-48. WRU’s homecoming football game was against Case. Case lost again, 0-9.

30 years ago our 1981 homecoming included the usual football game, pep rally and bonfire, tailgate party, dance, happy hour, Octoberfest party, post-game reception. Less common was a half-day Financial and Estate Planning Symposium. The symposium must have been popular because it was repeated in 1984.

In the 1990s homecoming added more scholarly components. In 1997 some of Friday’s undergraduate classes were open for alumni to visit. Faculty lectured on topics including, “CWRU’s Humanities Center, Women’s Studies and the Mother of Frankenstein” and “The Information Super Highway and Electronic Learning at CWRU.”

In 2006 a new homecoming tradition began: GospelFest, a concert of gospel music by local musicians, churches, and youth organizations. After her death GospelFest was named for alumna, Congresswoman, and honorary GospelFest chairwoman, Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

The homecoming tradition continues this year on October 13-16.

[1] 20JA 1:1 The Case Alumnus v.1 no.1 (October 1921): 1-2
[2] 4WH 1:1 Homecoming press release, n.d.

Posted by jmt3 at September 23, 2011 01:43 PM

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