Baylor Homecoming: An Event Uniting Students and Alumni For Over 100 Years Sarah Pullin
Homecoming is one of the most precious and time-honored traditions at Baylor University. It started in 1909, making it the first homecoming. This tradition has been carried out for over 100 years. Baylor’s Homecoming has also evolved into the largest homecoming in the nation. Homecoming is something that united both the current students, and invited the alumni to come back and reminisce on their college years. This weekend of events is something that even over the many years has changed little to none. It is something that is so loved and cherished by both alumni and current students and encouraged collaboration between the two. However precious this tradition, it was not consistent right after it first began. Baylor had to choose between tradition or patriotism. The First Homecoming
This first homecoming was November 24 & 25, 1909. This was Thanksgiving weekend. Homecoming was a much-anticipated event. “It has been the dream for years of many of the former students and graduates of Baylor University to have some time a reunion of the large Baylor family” (Guittard, Pool, & Ragland). The “purpose of Home-coming was to give and opportunity for the joyful meeting of former student friends, an occasion when old classmates could again feel the warm hand-clasp of their fellows, recall old memories and associations, and catch the Baylor spirit again” (Hargrove, 1909). Professors F.G. Guittard, W.H. Pool, and George Ragland, who composed the general committee of arrangement, wanted to make sure that the alumni knew that they were not inviting them back for fundraising. “The purpose of the home-coming is to be purely social and fraternal” (Guittard, Pool, & Ragland). Baylor launched a massive outreach to their alumni publicizing this event. They sent out personal invitations written by students, which included signatures of several faculty members. (As shown in the picture) Homecoming also presented opportunities for different societies to have reunions. Excitement for this event reached the city of Waco, the state, and beyond. “Baylor’s campus was never a livelier scene than Wednesday and Thursday of Home-Coming. Hundreds of old and new students were meeting, renewing acquaintances, re-forming “ties” and sharing in the old-day college spirit and geniality (Minatra, Odie, 1909, p.4). Not only did Baylor bloom with anticipation and enthusiasm, but so did the city of Waco. “Not in many years was the city so generally decorated in honor of any occasion” (The Round Up of 1910, p. 154). By the time the weekend of homecoming finally came, spirit was at an all-time high. Alumni had come in from all over; “all parts of the State were represented by Baylor’s loyal sons and daughters” (The Round Up of 1910, p. 154). Some even came in as early as a week before. “The home-coming was probably the greatest affair of its kind ever pulled of in the state of Texas. This is true from every standpoint and in every phase of University life” (Minatra, Odie, 1909, p.4). Homecoming was not only an exciting event for the alumni, but it also unified the campus producing an event to be extremely proud of. “All hearts throbbed in unison of every glimpse of Green and Gold, and were bound by golden cord of love for our ‘Alma Mater dear’” (Minatra, Odie, 1909, p.4). Program
The weekend began on Wednesday November 24, at 3 p.m. with a band concert and lead immediately into a reception by the president and faculty. Following this was prominent ex-students speaking in Carroll Chapel. After the students spoke President S. Palmer Brooks gave a welcome address, and Rev. George W. Truett gave a Homecoming address. Extending late into the night was an “old time soirée” in Georgia Burleson Hall. “Given by the local alumni and old student to the visiting graduates and students” (Odie, 1909, p. 2)....
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