Homecoming lawn displays represent ISU tradition

Jared Raney

Few traditions have lasted the 100 years of Homecoming that Iowa State is celebrating this year, but there is one point of pride that has been with the school since the beginning.

“There have always been some sort of yard or lawn displays [at Iowa State],” said Kurt Beyer, alumni officer I of the alumni association. “Some of the earliest were done by residence halls, elaborate but single structures.”

The past week in Ames has been dreary and rainy, but almost every day through Greekland the sound of hammers and table saws could be heard as the greek community worked on its lawn displays.

“The great thing about lawn displays is that it’s unique to Iowa State,” said Caleb Prohaska, junior in construction engineering and lawn display co-chair for Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. “My favorite part is the spirit that goes into it every year. We put a lot of work into these things, and we all try to keep the Cyclone spirit in mind.”

Though the event carries a lot of enthusiasm through the greek community, there have been concerns throughout its history as well.

“There’s been talk about whether it’s worth the cost and effort,” Beyer said.

Bret Renz, junior in aerospace engineering and lawn display building commissioner for Pi Kappa Phi said, “It’s definitely been thrown around; it takes a lot of money and time not everyone has.”

Beyer also said over the years there have been many safety concerns.

“Before a height rule was put in place, there were three-to-four-story structures, Campaniles 45 feet high,” Beyer said.

And height has not been the only concern.

Beyer mentioned a few instances in lawn display history he couldn’t believe were allowed at the time: destroying parts of the display in the skit, moving parts and other dangerous tactics that are not allowed today.

Despite the critiques and concerns, most of those involved hope to see the tradition continue. Isaac Droessler, sophomore in mechanical engineering and another Pi Kappa Phi building commissioner, said, “It may be a waste of money, but we have a lot of fun with it.”

“The best part is that it’s unique, and it’s a tradition that we love to see come back every year,” Prohaska said.

As one of the oldest traditions at Iowa State, lawn displays look like they’ll have a long future ahead thanks to the dedicated few who put on their shows once a year.

Beyer said, “We’ll have thousands of people come out to see this. My goal in this has always been to preserve the traditions of Iowa State.”