Homecoming traditions grow over time

Sarah Binder

Tired voices, precise routines and lots of paint are familiar to the pairings that participate in Yell Like Hell every year.

However, there will be a new group sharing the experience this year: A single gold division team will perform at the pep rally Friday. This is the first time in years that a non-greek Yell Like Hell team has been assembled.

Yell Like Hell is just one of many homecoming traditions that have been cherished — or modified — over the years. 

Mass Campaniling and Fireworks: There isn’t a clear record of when it was determined that a student wasn’t a true co-ed until he or she had been kissed under the Campanile at the stroke of midnight. However, it is believed that it began to become popular to “mass Campanile” at major celebrations during the 1960s. Ever since then, cCampaniling has been one of Iowa State’s most notorious, and most loved, traditions.

A recent addition has been to hand out breath mints as the crowds begin to assemble.

“It started last year as kind of a joke,” said Alex Menard, general co-chairwoman for Homecoming Central Committee, “but it’s kind of helpful, too.”

As the clock strokes midnight, there are also fireworks on Central Campus each year. Maintaining this tradition is unique to Homecoming, which Kurt Beyer, faculty adviser for Homecoming Central Committee, said is a point of pride.

Cy: Iowa State’s mascot was first introduced at the Homecoming football game in 1954, according to University Archives.

King and Queen: Beyer described this as a “here for a while, gone for a while kind of tradition.” The tradition of having a Homecoming king and queen dates back to at least the 1940s, but has varied in popularity since that time.

In recent years, more emphasis has been given to the king and queen, starting when Cardinal Court was reinstated in 2006.

“This isn’t your typical high school homecoming king and queen,” Beyer said, stressing that in recent years the competition has been more and more rooted in scholarship and on-campus leadership.

“This year, we really just wanted to recognize these people who have been selected out of 60-plus applicants,” Menard said.

Homecoming Dance: Although this tradition has faded away, it used to be a major part of the homecoming celebrations each year. For women on campus, it was very important to receive a big, yellow chrysanthemum with yellow ribbons for homecoming. This year, the mum tradition will be reinstated by the Cardinal Court when the court is presented at the pep rally.

Beyer said he believes the Battle of the Bands and concert on Central Campus, which have grown in recent years, is a modern variation on the traditional dance.

“It’s a more casual entertainment experience,” Beyer said.

Homecoming Parade: The reason for discontinuing this tradition was simple: “Veishea was the parade to be at,” Beyer said.

However, the spirit of a parade can still be found at exCYtement in the streets Friday night, when different organizations and clubs can show off their stuff to passersby.

Yell Like Hell and Lawn Displays: Beyer said this is the tradition that immediately comes to mind when he thinks of Homecoming.

“I think the competition is much improved,” Beyer said, comparing it to his time as a student 10 years ago, when Yell Like Hell was more of a simple stomp and the lawn displays were less elaborate. Since then, the competition has continued to grow.

In recent years, pairings have tended to incorporate both the Homecoming theme and their own theme, which is often rooted in pop culture. The routines continue to become more polished, the structures to become bigger.

The tradition dates back to the 1940s. Residence halls were once active participants, but the version of this tradition that current students know is mainly by the greek community. Menard attributes this to greek houses having the resources and experience to take such a huge event and keep growing it every year.

In recent years, there has been a push to get residence halls and other student groups involved in this tradition again. Menard said residence halls tend to express interest in the event, but don’t have the commitment and resources to follow through.

Nevertheless, Menard said, this year there will be one “very eclectic” gold divison — non-greek — Yell Like Hell group performing a modified skit at the pep rally Friday night.

“We’re allowing this one gold team to make it their own — it’ll kind of be a surprise,” Menard said.