The postcard sent to alumni in 1936, drawn by
art department faculty member George Keller.
Homecoming
 

 

Robert Dunkelberger
Bloomsburg University Archivist


The 2009 season marked the 82nd consecutive year that Bloomsburg has celebrated Homecoming, dating back to November of 1928. The beginnings of this collegiate tradition can be traced to 1909, when two senior societies at the University of Illinois asked that a weekend be set aside where alumni and former students could come back to renew friendships and meet with current students. This celebration was first held in October, 1910, and was centered around the Illinois-Chicago football game.

Schools around the country began adopting this tradition, and Bloomsburg was no different. Alumni started returning to campus for a few years during the 1920s to see old friends and a football game, which led to the first official Homecoming held on Saturday, November 17, 1928. The activities for the day were limited, but our opponent on the gridiron was Bloomsburg's oldest and most bitter rival, the Wyoming Seminary of Kingston.

Alumni, parents, and friends were invited to participate in all of the Homecoming Day festivities, but the game they watched was a disappointment as Wyoming won 25-0. It was played before a crowd of 3000 spectators and turned out to be the last time the Seminary would ever play a football game in Bloomsburg. The rest of the day though turned out well, beginning with an informal reception that was held in the gymnasium. This was a time for the alumni to be together and get reacquainted. Dinner was served at 6:00 in the college dining hall, followed by a dance for the alumni and their guests in the gym from 7:30-10:30. It was decorated in Maroon and Gold, and the music was furnished by Alexander’s Orchestra. Hundreds of alumni returned for the day, which was a big success even with losing the game.

The second Homecoming in 1929 was more involved and turned into an all-day event. A committee was set up to coordinate activities and letters were sent out to notify the alumni, more than 1000 of which responded, along with hundreds of guests. They enjoyed the planned events and this time the football game as well, when Bloomsburg defeated East Stroudsburg 13-0.
 


The dance held in the old gym the night of Bloomsburg's
10th Homecoming, October 23, 1937
Homecoming during the 1930s developed into a very well organized and successful celebration. It was sometimes tied in with other events, such as the dedication of the Ben Franklin Training School in November of 1930. Student committees were responsible for decorating the campus in the colors of both schools, and the freshmen hung streamers from the monument in Market Square and from light poles and trees in the business district on Main Street and down East Street.

 

 
The first three football games had music supplied by the high school band and the Elks band, but in 1931 the Maroon and Gold band was founded to provide Bloomsburg with its own music to fire up the fans.  Technical innovations were started during these years, beginning in 1934 when for the first time a speaker system was installed to provide play-by-play, announce player information, and give the scores of other games. A novel way of beginning the football game was tried in 1936 when a local aviator, Roy Snyder, dropped the game ball from an airplane passing over the stadium. The football was decorated with thirty foot long streamers of maroon and gold and red and black, for the school colors of Bloomsburg and Mansfield. The ball came very close to hitting its target in the center of the field, which the Bloomsburg Press writer remarked was a better show of accuracy than any of the Husky passers exhibited that day, with Mansfield winning 19-0.
 
The decorations in the gym for the dances became more elaborate under the direction of Art professor George Keller, with the 1938 motif including a huge silhouette of Carver Hall. Through 1941 the schedule for the day did not vary, with a band concert in the morning, then lunch, the football game, tea, dinner, and a dance.  This changed in 1942 due to World War II. The varsity football team was dropped for two years, and in its place a soccer match was substituted the first year, and for the second a football game was held between two squads from the Navy V-12 program. 
Float in the October 12, 1963 parade
 
Patriotic themes were the order of the day, and through 1945 the ceremonies included a review of the navy units. Food was restricted because of the war, and during 1943 and 1944 no meals were served.  Following the war the morning band concert was replaced by an assembly, which evolved into a student talent show. But the major change was the introduction of a parade in 1954. It was originally conceived as a pep parade held the night before the game, followed by a rally and bonfire. It was not until 1958 that it was first called the Homecoming Parade.

Homecoming at Bloomsburg has always been an important and festive occasion, highlighted by the football game. Through the 2009 season we have celebrated 80 Homecoming games, with an all-time record of 49-30-1.  Even though Homecoming has changed a lot over the years it remains one of the high points of the school year, and an important way for Bloomsburg alumni to relive their college days and once again root on the Huskies.


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