Homecoming at Augustana is without a doubt one of the most exciting and most looked-forward-to events in the fall. Homecoming is a time-honored tradition of inviting alumni back to campus as well as showing our full school pride with our various traditions and activities. This has been the case since the first homecoming in October 1920. We can watch our school grow and develop through our traditions, both new and old, and as reporter Allison Kittrell of The Sunday Dispatch in Moline, Illinois, puts it, “During the homecoming weekend, past and future graduates become part of the spirit of Augustana. After the football game, the concerts, and the dance are over and everyone goes back to his job or his classes, that spirit will remain until next fall, and another homecoming” (Augustana College Homecoming – 1970s Vertical File).
We can have an idea of what homecoming would look like at a particular time thanks to the college’s collection of Homecoming programs (located in MSS 184 Augustana College Homecoming collection) which were given to participants of the events and activities that happened on campus. The programs include information about our football team as well as our opponents. Homecomings in the past usually consisted of a banquet for alumni, students, and faulty followed by the home football game with our fighting Vikings leading us to victory. One interesting addition to the program is a list of chants and songs that would be yelled by the crowd during the game— a tradition that has faded away in more recent years, but was also the beginning of the Yell and Sing competitions still held on campus today. The 1926 Homecoming program gives us a representative list of the popular chants and songs the audience would use during the game to capture that Augustana Spirit.
These chants, led by the cheerleaders, were just one way to bring everyone together and show that Viking pride. The programs also include pictures of the homecoming court, including nominees and attendants, and especially the crowning of the Vi-King and Vi-Queen in their traditional robes, not unlike what our royalty wears today.
Now our homecoming looks very different. We no longer have a parade, and the events leading up to the football game are perhaps more highly anticipated by the student body. The traditional homecoming parade was canceled in 2001 due to lack of student interest. The parades allowed students to build their own floats and show their school and team pride, as well as compete for prizes and awards for the best float. The parade was replaced with themed fairs and festivals that still occur in our lower quad today. This is still the time we come together and compete in the Cardboard Regatta in the Slough, a tradition started after the creation of the Slough in the 1960s. Our Yell and Sing competitions are very popular and a way for sororities, fraternities and other student groups to come together in fun competition and show their school pride. These new traditions bring everyone together under the “spirit of Augustana” that will last for generations to come.
For further information about Homecoming at Augustana, stop by Special Collections and request MSS 184 Augustana College Homecoming collection to see some historic programs, or take a look at the Augustana College Homecoming vertical file. You can also use the Rockety-I and Observer database to access online articles about past homecoming traditions and student organizations and committees.