I’m at Penn State this weekend for Homecoming. It’s the latest in the autumn that Penn State’s ever held Homecoming, and unless a serious upset occurs this afternoon, the Rutgers game represents a sort of neighborhood match between two nearby Big Ten universities. I’m sharing a short campus walk that I streamed on Facebook yesterday, along with photos I snapped in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day in State College, but incredibly frigid and slightly windy. Depending on how things go today, I’m not sure how much time I’ll spend in Beaver Stadium’s windswept benches.
Gabriela Stevenson shares some of the history of Penn State’s Homecoming, past and present:
The first ever “Alumni Home-coming Day” saw the return of over 1,100 alumni to State College for the third game of the season against Dartmouth, which Penn State won 14-7 in front of “the largest crowd that ever witnessed a game on New Beaver Field.” October 9, 1920 and the rest of that weekend, enhanced by old acquaintances, camaraderie, and a “smoker” in the old Armory, “was so great a success it promised to become one of the biggest events on the college calendar.”
Decades after that first Homecoming Day, it was evident that this statement remained true. By the 1950s and 1960s, Homecoming weekends were packed with activities like an alumni golf tournament, a Homecoming ball, and a Nickelodeon movie night. …
Now, as Penn State prepares for its 97th Homecoming weekend, Homecoming Alumni Relations Director Emily Heere says her committee seeks to carry out Homecoming’s original core mission.
“…Homecoming offers the perfect opportunity for alumni to head back to Happy Valley and embrace not only the tradition and things that shaped them into the person they are today, but also the new changes and generations of people that have followed in their foot steps,” she said. “I think the only thing that has changed about Homecoming in terms of connecting with alumni is the fact that there are so many more opportunities now than there were in the past for Alumni to connect and stay in touch with Penn State.”
But alumni will no longer get marshmallows stuck in their hair. There are no alumni golf tournaments, no semi-formal Homecoming balls, no cider parties. Pride Events Director Matt Monaghan recognizes the shift in event focus as a way to include more students in the festivities.
“While alumni are highly encouraged to attend all Homecoming events, the events now focus on creating memories now that students can look back on when they visit Homecoming events as alumni,” he said.