Homecoming: a time to reconnect with alumni, win a football game, tailgate, and not study Western Heritage.
Homecoming was founded in 1914 by then senior Albert DeLapp, who The Collegian proclaimed the “father of homecoming” Oct. 7, 1941, which may be the best title ever held by anyone at Hillsdale College. Today’s festivities include banner-making competitions, wing-eating contests, a bonfire, a Homecoming king and queen contest, and the infamous Mock Rock dance competition. But the early days of Hillsdale Homecoming consisted of much more, including a Children’s Pet and Doll Parade.
Dogs and dolls parading down E. College Street? I had to learn more.
In 1934, “a half dozen small boys entered the pet and doll parade displaying a various lot of snakes as their pets,” according to the Nov. 6, 1934 issue of The Collegian.
It would be alarming to head out to the parade expecting to see little kids and puppies and then to have half a dozen snakes come at you, which may be the reason the Children’s Pet and Doll parade has gone extinct from current homecoming festivities.
It may also be because our homecoming “parade” is less than a block long, and adding dolls to the lineup would max out the area’s fire safety limit.
Another early homecoming tradition was an annual homecoming play.
That is one way to add drama to the homecoming festivities.
On Nov. 7, 1933, The Collegian reported “‘The Far-Away Princess,’ the homecoming play, was one of the most finished productions Hillsdale students have seen in some time.”
When the Homecoming play is more “finished” than the actual dramatic performances put on by the theatre department, Hillsdale College drama may have a problem.
The credibility of the statement that the homecoming play was the “most finished” comes into question when one looks two weeks back in The Collegian archives to Oct. 24, 1933, when the newspaper announced the cast and first rehearsal.
When the cast admittedly only practices for two weeks and it is still such a highly regarded production, the Hillsdale theatre department definitely had problems.
The Collegian reported, “Jean Larrabee and George Culver were most interesting as the princess and the poet. Jean was wistful and sweet in her white lace gown, and made a lovely picture as she sat looking out the window.”
I guess being a “lovely picture” did add to her overall skills as an actress.
In 1934, “Heirs-at-Law” was the homecoming play. On Nov. 6, 1934, The Collegian printed, “The play was an amusing light comedy of the marital difficulties of young Richard Doane, complicated by a will, mother-in-law, and a servant girl who had the knack of saying the wrong thing at the most inopportune time.”
Nothing quite says college homecoming like that.
While we don’t have a dramatic performance in today’s homecoming scene, the performances put on during the wing-eating contest and Mock Rock more than make up for it.
With traditions like these, Hillsdale homecoming used to be quite the experience.
It’s time we bring back some of these celebrations to Hillsdale’s favorite holiday.