It’s 1951. You are a new freshman at St. Cloud State and you walk onto campus with nerves, excitement, and a new sense of independence. An upperclassman approaches you and hands you a lime green hat. It barely fits your head and you trace your finger over the letters “SCS.” Welcome, you are a freshman at St. Cloud State and now have to wear this “beanie” at all times until Homecoming.
On October 20, 2018, St. Cloud State University brought Homecoming back after a long absence. Homecoming was a huge tradition at SCS up until 1994. SCSU tried to revive the famous tradition a couple times, but it never carried through. This year in 2018, SCSU brought back the event.
The early days of Homecoming at SCSU were filled with a variety of elaborate traditions. Every year there was a parade and a football game on Homecoming Saturday. Take a quote from the 1962 yearbook Talahi, “A 56-unit parade with five elaborate floats and nine bands preceded the Saturday afternoon tie game with Winona and the Homecoming dance Saturday night.”
Student clubs, resident halls, sororities, and fraternities used to decorate floats to show their school spirit. On top of that, each organization competed for the best float.
In 1978, SCSU cancelled the Homecoming parade. This was due to lack of interest, low attendance, intoxicated students, and local bar specials that encouraged heavy drinking.
One high school tradition that was carried over at the time was Homecoming royalty. One man and one woman were “elected” for the honor and then had the opportunity to wave at spectators in the audience during the parade. However, Homecoming royalty did not continue without controversy. In 1946, it was ruled that being Homecoming Queen should be more than a beauty contest and each contestant there on was required to get 75 signatures supporting her campaign.
Later in 1972, the women’s equality group campaigned to abolish Homecoming Queen. The group declared that it was sexist and that the student body should not vote for a woman based on her looks. However, other students thought having a Queen was part of the Homecoming tradition and did not want to get rid of it. In the end, the women’s equality group lost the vote 500 to 408.
However, in 1974 the first Homecoming king, Chuck Lemeire was crowned. The King and Queen were then crowned and draped in long, heavy, red, robes each year up until 1994.
It’s safe to say that SCSU traditions have changed since they no longer condone hazing. Every freshmen was required to wear hats, or “beanies,” at all times. If they did not, they were subject to a variety of consequences according to the 1957 student handbook “There are penalties if we should happen to catch you without your beanie. Haircuts and river swims were the most popular last year along with making beds if you should happen to live in a dorm.”
During Homecoming, freshmen had the opportunity to “redeem” themselves. There used to be an infamous class game of Tug-O-War between the freshmen and sophomores. If freshmen won the game, they would burn their beanies at the bonfire and never to wear them again.
In 1956, the rules changed slightly. SCSU started to recognize making freshmen wear beanies was bullying. The administration wanted to make the beanies a positive aspect to college life; i.e. freshmen wore them so that other students could help them.
SCSU decided the Tug-O-War game only contributed to hazing and cancelled it.
Homecoming 2018 introduced a set of new and old traditions for students. Though there was no parade for the celebration, however SCSU did host a Homecoming Kick Off on Wednesday, October 17, on the mall of Atwood Memorial Center. The Kick Off included a DJ, a ferris wheel, and free food for those with a valid student ID.
Students were also able to “stuff-a-husky.” Hundreds of husky toys were packed in rows of boxes for SCSU students and faculty to stuff and take home for free.
On the same Wednesday at night, Blizzard Shack was held at Atwood Mall. The ferris wheel stayed up for the night time event. There was also mini golf with a chance to win free prizes, free food, a bonfire, inflatable bounce houses, and even a “mocktail” bar with two bartenders.
As for the weekend of Homecoming, the university hosted a Homecoming 5k run for the St. Cloud community and alumni.
Even without a beanie to burn, the bonfire remained as a tradition for Homecoming. This year students, alumni, faculty, and staff gathered round to show their support towards the Huskies athletic teams near the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.
Written by Rose Mikhail
Contributed by Rose Mikhail
Pictures by Markus Linz, Janice Loh, Rose Mikhail, and University Archives