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Grand Duke | The Homecoming Tradition

The Fall is a memorable season across college campuses because of HOMECOMING. While rivalries may run deep, we are all united under the umbrella of a weekend full of tradition and celebration. It is a time of shared experiences with current, past, and future students, and their families. The below outlines 9 Fun Facts about the origination of homecoming sourced by:

The History of Homecoming
The NCAA credits the University of Missouri with the first ever homecoming event. In 1911 Mizzou's Athletic Director Chester Brewer invited alumni to come home for a game against the University of Kansas. The event drew over 10,000 individuals for a weekend of speeches, rallies, dances and a parade, with the big game as the weekend's center point.

Football Takes Center Stage
As the popularity of football grew on campuses across the U.S., school started to center the weekend around football to capitalize on attendance. Often times, the coronation of a new football field or a big rival game was highlighted to focus homecoming celebrations. 

One for the History Books
The University of Illinois claims to have the longest running homecoming tradition, starting in 1910 and only skipping one year—1918.

The Homecoming Court is Born
The homecoming court has its origins in the 1930s. Originally the queen was chosen based on a composite of the float she was riding and the person herself, later queens and kings were nominated and ultimately chosen based on their qualities as an individual.

Adding of the Bonfire
One of the earliest instances of the homecoming bonfire was on the campus of Baylor University in 1909. Freshmen maintained overnight fires to safeguard the Baylor campus against raids from cross-town rival Texas Christian University. 

Mums the Word
Mums are short for chrysanthemums--the fall flower largely associated with homecoming. The exchanging of mums has evolved in the southwestern U.S. into corsages and garters exchanged by high school students. As long as three feet and weighing up to 12 pounds, mums are elaborately decorated with chrysanthemum blossoms, ribbons, bells and trinkets denoting name, class and special interests. 

Tailgate Begins
The tailgate party has emerged as the pre-eminent event for homecoming week celebrations. Alumni, students and fans will travel from all over the world to attend the festivities taking place in the parking lot outside of a stadium. Many tailgaters don't even have tickets for the game--they're just there for the party.

Everyone Loves a Parade
The modern homecoming parade includes the school's marching band, the homecoming court, a variety of floats based upon a chosen theme and a leader of the parade--usually the school's grand marshal. Parades may take place on the school campus or run the length of a town's main street, inviting the majority of the town's citizens and businesses to take part.

Catch the Spirit
Spirit days or dress-up days are most popular during high school homecoming week. Different themes designated throughout the week invite students to dress in costumes or school colors to show their school spirit. Common themes include toga day, geek week and school spirit day.