75 year of homecoming history

Melissa Young

Homecoming is not just about the football game, it’s about bringing a school and community together and just having a good time.  Northern’s homecoming theme this year is “75 Years of Homecoming Pride” because it marks the 75th annual homecoming celebration.

In the past, there was one idea that everyone had to base their float off of, but this year is an opportunity for students to get more creative. Student organizations and clubs have to use ideas based off of previous themes or floats that have been used in the past.

Homecoming at NMU first attempted to begin in 1924. The plan was to get the alumni together and go to the Northern vs. Tech football game. In 1935, Northern finally had the official homecoming festivities which included a pep rally and parade on Friday and a bonfire to follow after the parade. The football game was held Saturday afternoon followed by a dance.

Of course, homecoming today is different in that there are more activities throughout the week and it is a more laid back atmosphere.

Dave Bonsall, director of the Center for Student Enrichment, thinks Northern’s homecoming is unique from other schools because bigger schools have a more serious side to their homecoming. At different schools, only certain groups can participate and also has a highly competitive side.

“It’s not just about the alumni coming out, it’s also a good way for organizations to get together and bond with each other a little more,” Bonsall said.

Bonsall also feels that because of the more laid back feel, there is no need for competition. It’s just pure fun, Bonsall said.

“My favorite part of homecoming is the Dead River games, but homecoming overall reminds me of why I like Northern so much,” Bonsall said. “(I like to see) all of the students getting together and enjoying themselves, and we also pray for good weather.”

Homecoming is also a chance for all the alumni to come out and bring their memories back to NMU. Deanna Hemmila, director of alumni- operations, knows there is a good turn out of alumni when hotels, restaurants, and Third Street for fill up with alumni for the parade and homecoming festivities.

“Without a doubt, the best part of Homecoming is the reminiscing that takes place,” Hemmila said. “It is so fun to just stand with a group of alumni and listen to their stories, and hear how important Northern is to them and what a difference it made in their lives.”

During the ‘50s and ‘60s homecoming was played off as very traditional and very serious. The king and queen nominations were very elaborate and there weren’t as many activities that just any student could participate in.

By the late ‘60s and early ‘70s homecoming began to die out and then in the late 70s it made a comeback. This is when homecoming became a tradition to just have a good time and to get involved with school spirit. Special Events such as the world’s largest pasty held in 1978 and the world’s largest musical chairs game held in 1977, which 1,674 people participated in, kicked off the comeback to having homecoming again.

Many traditions are still happening to this day. Traditions like the annual homecoming parade through town, football game on Saturday afternoon, and a full week of school spirit and fun activities. For alumni the annual tradition is a 5th quarter brunch, which follows the end of the football game.

Lizzie Corser, special events coordinator at NMU, has been the coordinator of homecoming for the past three years. There are 20-25 members of the committee right now and they help put together homecoming week and all the events it entails.

“It is amazing to learn that Northern’s homecoming consisted of just a football game at one point, and now look at everything there is to do when it comes to homecoming week,” Corser said.

Corser said he feels there is something going on throughout the week that will interest every student and the planning committee is open so that any organization or individual is welcome to participate.

“This makes it more accessible and flexible to anyone interested,” Corser said. “This is something I have been a part of for three years and this is definitely something I have been working on.”

Homecoming begins Sunday, Sept. 19, and lasts all week. The Center for Student Enrichments   encourages all students to make it to at least one event. It’s an opportunity to show NMU pride and participate as much as possible. For more information, students can contact the special events committee at [email protected]

Homecoming 2010 Schedule of Events

Saturday:

Striking Out Cancer Softball Tournament

River Park Sports Complex, 8 a.m.

Sunday:

Dead River Games

Dead River Bridge, 2 – 4 p.m.

Monday:

Scavenger Hunt

Great Lakes Rooms, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday:

Stepping Competition

Jamrich 102, 7 p.m.

Wednesday:

King & Queen Competition

Great Lakes Rooms, 7 p.m.

Thursday:

Homecoming Bingo Night

The Market Place, 9 p.m.

Friday:

NMU Soccer vs. Saginaw Valley State

Outdoor Fields, 2 p.m.

Parade

Third Street, 5:30 p.m.

NMU Volley vs. Northwood

Vandament Arena, 7 p.m.

Saturday:

NMU Volleyball vs. Lake Superior State

Vandament Arena, 1:30 p.m.

Tailgate Party

Superior Dome, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.

NMU Football vs. Ashland University

Superior Dome, 4 p.m.

Homecoming Party

Great Lakes Rooms, 10 p.m. – 2 a.m.