Last week's revival of the UMD homecoming parade is something that downtown Duluth streets have not seen in 40 years. Despite unfavorable weather the parade was successful in stirring a little more interest in the tradition of homecoming. The recent spotlight on this old tradition gives one a feeling that perhaps in the past, there was something more to homecoming than what we currently know.
Turning to UMD's yearbook, the Chronicle, gives an excellent view into how homecoming used to be. The yearbook was published between 1926 and 1972, and offers feature articles on homecoming for every year since 1947. The golden era of homecoming in these yearbooks seems to be between the late 1950s and 1970. Multiple pages are devoted to this event in most editions; photos of students frolicking in autumn scenes, parades of the past, enormous bonfires, and student organization competitions are commonplace.
The homecoming weeks of this era involved a larger number of activities than what has been the norm in recent years, though 2013 is definitely a nod to the festivities of the past. It would appear that in the past, a genuine excitement was in the air surrounding these events. The excitement was capped every year by an annual homecoming dance.
"The real climax to the week, however, will come at 9 p.m. with the homecoming dance," an Oct. 26, 1967 Duluth News Tribune article reads. "All three floors of Kirby Student Center will be turned into ballrooms and decorated in the theme 'I'm No Saint.' Dancing will continue until 1 a.m. when the curtain will come down on homecoming for another year."
Excitement toward homecoming was at an all-time high for 1966. This year a new stadium that was eight years in the making was finally completed with the financial backing of Bulldogs fans, alumni, students, and former regent Richard L. Griggs. Numerous Duluth News Tribune articles covered the topic and photos of workers pushing to complete the stadium just in time are found in both the News Tribune and Chronicle.
UMD homecoming 2013 has come and gone, with its memory fading quickly. However, the next year will move by quicker than ever, and fall 2014 will be upon us. Perhaps the renewal of past traditions will continue to weave their way into UMD's annual homecoming, and it will branch out into the community again.