Other than commencement, there is nothing on campus with as rich a tradition as Homecoming. This fall marks the 100th year since the celebration that brings alumni back to ISU each fall began.
The earliest version occurred in 1919 with a recognition of alumni and students who had served during World War I. Credit for the official start of Homecoming goes to President David Felmley.
During a trip east during the winter of 1920-1921, he noted what he called the homecoming trend at other schools. He appointed a committee to develop a plan. The University’s first Homecoming was November 4-5 in 1921. Approximately 700 alumni attended a pre-game parade from Old Main to the football field. Other activities included a party in Fell Hall, a dance, and a free waffle breakfast.Appears In
The celebration was such a success that it became an annual tradition that expanded over time. A “hobo parade” through the downtown was added in 1923, with campus clubs competing for recognition as the dingiest group. The parade, shown above from 1931, remains a Homecoming favorite.
Houses were decorated starting in 1927, which is another tradition that continues as local businesses and campus offices display a Homecoming theme. The football game remains another highlight of Homecoming, which has grown into a week of activities that includes events such as a 5k and tailgating.
Homecoming is the work of staff in Alumni Engagement, and many across campus, who will welcome Redbirds back for this year’s celebration October 11-17. Information can be found online at Homecoming.IllinoisState.edu.
“This is an historic year for the University. The events to celebrate the 100th year of Homecoming are designed to reflect the rich traditions and vibrant future of the University,” said Alumni Engagement Executive Director Kris Harding, M.S. ’94. “We look forward to the many celebrations and seeing our alumni reconnect with fellow classmates, students, and the campus community.”