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Homecoming parade from 1963.

Snapshot from the past: Homecoming 1963

U celebrates Homecoming Week 2004

By Pauline Oo

Published on October 19, 2004; updated October 22, 2004

In 1923, the University of Minnesota's homecoming parade featured "rumbling chariots, creaky farm wagons, and antique relics" as students strove for the homecoming cup--the coveted prize for the best parade unit--according to the Gopher yearbook. Almost a century later, the parade, minus the creaky farm wagons, is still a highlight of homecoming.

Homecoming, with its traditions and reunions, is always the most popular time for University of Minnesota alumni to return to campus. There are a host of activities in the days leading up to the homecoming football game. This year's theme is "Homecoming 2004... It's Reality," inspired by the growing number of reality shows on television.

Show your support
Remember to pick up your free "Bring Gopher Football Home" buttons at the Homecoming breakfast, parade, and at the Metrodome plaza before the game. You can also sign a Gopher stadium supporter list at the Metrodome.

In addition to the parade on Saturday, the U's Students Activities Office is hosting a blood donation at 10 a.m. and an outdoor movie at dusk on Tuesday, October 19; the Gopher Idol karaoke competition on at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday; an outdoor concert by Panoramic Blue at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday; and a cheer competition and pepfest starting at 5 p.m. on Friday. The pepfest, which will feature the bonfire, royalty coronation, and a live music concert, will be held at the East River flats on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis.

More than 3,000 alumni and friends are expected to scarf down pancakes and juice at the Homecoming Breakfast on Saturday, October 23, prior to catching the parade at 10 a.m. and the homecoming game against the University of Illionis at 1 p.m. The breakfast, hosted by the U of M Alumni Association (UMAA) will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the Sports Pavilion (next to Williams Arena). Tickets, which will be sold at the door, are $6 for UMAA members, $8 for nonmembers, and $3 for children ages 3 to 10. In addition to food and entertainment, there'll be appearances by U celebrities and athletes.

The First Homecoming?
The year of the first homecoming at a U.S. college or university is hard to pin down. The NCAA Hall of Records gives the title to Missouri in 1911. But Illinois claims it held the first college football-related event called "homecoming" in 1910. Central Illinois argues that their homecoming games go back to 1903, although, until 1914, the game featured the varsity team playing against an alumni team. In any event, the tradition spread fast--including to Iowa in 1912 and Minnesota in 1914--as colleges and alumni groups across the nation recognized football's popularity and its unique ability to attract thousands of fans and alumni to a college campus. --from M, fall 2003

The School of Music's Homecoming Collage Concert, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in Ted Mann Concert Hall, features more than 500 student and faculty performers and several U ensembles, including the University Opera Theatre, Symphony Orchestra, and Concert Choir. At the free public concert, the University will recognize choral legend Dale Warland with an honorary doctorate. Warland, who earned his master's degree in music theory and composition at the U, is returning to his alma mater to teach choral conducting courses.

Minnesota's homecoming has certainly grown and changed over the decades. Traditions have come and gone, and homecoming, itself, even waned a bit in the early 1970s. But at almost 90 years old, it continues to be--as alumni organizing chairman Stanley Gillam proclaimed in 1923--"one of the most durable satisfactions of life."

For other Homecoming events or the complete Homecoming 2004 schedule, see Homecoming 2004.

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