Homecoming: A History

A bonfire the Friday night before the Homecoming Game was a tradition for many years.  Here we see a cheerleader jumping in front of the 1963 bonfire.


A bonfire the Friday night before the Homecoming Game was a tradition for many years.  Here we see a cheerleader jumping in front of the 1963 bonfire.

The roots of UW-Eau Claire’s homecoming date back to 1924. That first homecoming “party” was celebrated on November 7, 1924. The concept of homecoming was still in its infancy for our school, and the entire event that year was planned in haste. The Periscope, our school’s yearbook discontinued in 1995, provides a brief account of the 1924 homecoming. The 1925 issue states,

“A ‘homecoming’ party was given on Friday, November 7. It did not prove a huge success, for several reasons: ‘homecoming’ day was decided upon in a short time and so the ‘grads’ were not able to come ‘home’ on such short notice; the weather was ‘horrid’ and we came out on the small side of the score.”

UW-Eau Claire's first "official" Homecoming party was held October 9-10, 1926. That's the same year Phyllis Beebe enrolled at Eau Claire State Teacher's College. on Saturday, October 10th, 2015, 89 years after the first "official" Homecoming, and 86 years after she graduated, Phyllis, 106, was on hand for the 2015 Blugold Homecoming parade.

A scene from the 1929 Homecoming Football Game against Stevens Point.  Schofield Hall can be seen in the background.

A scene from the 1929 Homecoming Football Game against Stevens Point.  Schofield Hall can be seen in the background.

Prior to the establishment of our first football field in 1926, located south of Schofield Hall, our school's home football games were held in Driving Park located near the school's grounds in Eau Claire's third ward area.  Although our first homecoming may have been disappointing, the editors of The Periscope did point our that, "students who did attend seemed to have a good time."

The Alpha Phi Omega float glides through downtown Eau Claire during the 1963 Homecoming Parade.

The Alpha Phi Omega float glides through downtown Eau Claire during the 1963 Homecoming Parade.

Enjoying the 1980 Homecoming Parade in style, King Pete Hein and Queen Mary Valentyn sit perched atop a car observing the crowd.  

Enjoying the 1980 Homecoming Parade in style, King Pete Hein and Queen Mary Valentyn sit perched atop a car observing the crowd.
 

It is worth noting that our first homecoming parade also took place in 1924.  The student body gathered at 2:00 pm on November 7th and, led by the school band, a processing "cavorted in happiness" to the Driving Park.  As years passed the Homecoming parade and associated festivities would grow larger and eventually encompass the entire Eau Claire community.

Quarterback Sean Hoolihan eyes the field in this scene from the 1997 Homecoming Football Game against UW-Stout.  

Quarterback Sean Hoolihan eyes the field in this scene from the 1997 Homecoming Football Game against UW-Stout.