1. The first Ball State homecoming took place in 1926.
The first homecoming occurred on November 18th, 1926, featuring a bonfire, pep session, dancing, and food. The football team defeated Hanover College 13-0!
2. The annual Leaf Rake was once a Homecoming tradition.
In response to the lack of groundskeepers and the lack of a football game due to World War II, students raked leaves to help clean up campus. The tradition continued for over 10 years.
3. Louis Armstrong performed during Ball State homecoming in 1964.
In addition to the Homecoming festivities, Louis Armstrong gave two performances in the John R. Emens College Community Auditorium. Armstrong performed “Hello Dolly” at each performance.
4. There was no homecoming from 1943-1946.
Homecoming festivities were canceled in 1943 due to World War II. They did not return until 1947, which brought back an 18-float parade, Homecoming queen contest, theater rush, bonfire, freshman-sophomore contest, and a “gala” Homecoming dance!
5. Charlie Cardinal and the Easter Bunny teamed up in 1986.
The Easter Bunny and Charlie Cardinal led 248 students bunny hopping from the corner of Neely and McKinley avenues to LaFollette Field.
6. Many people boycotted the 1970 homecoming parade.
Led by the Greek community, BSU student life, and Residence Halls, the boycott planned and executed with the intent to address concerns with general studies, housing regulations, equitable parking, abolishment of administrative paternalism, and the greater role of fraternities as free cooperative housing units. The parade still took place amidst the boycott.
7. Bed Race and Air Jam did not begin until the 1980s.
The tradition of closing down Riverside Avenue to allow teams of five to race a bed down a 100-yard course began in 1980 when students used beds from nearby fraternity houses. Air Jam, the lip-sync, dance, and dress-up competition, was created in 1987. Both continue to this day!
8. The Homecoming Steering Committee was established in 1961.
Established in 1961, this student and advisor-led committee still exists and functions as the driving force behind Ball State Homecoming to this day. Photos of each Homecoming Steering Committee are hung up in the hallways of the Ball State Alumni Center office spaces!
9. Homecoming started out as an open house for the Women of Lucina Hall.
Before the inception of a week’s worth of events, celebrations included the open house held by the women of Lucina Hall, which was an all women residence hall.
10. The first homecoming queen was elected in 1938.
It wasn’t until 12 years after the first Homecoming that a queen was crowned. Marjorie Haisley was the first queen, with her responsibilities including leading the Homecoming Parade, presenting awards, presiding over the football game and reigning at the Homecoming Dance.
11. 1978’s Homecoming festivities featured a phone booth stuffing contest.
Yes…it is exactly as it sounds. Ball State students competed to see who could fit the most people inside a phone booth. You remember those, right?
12. The Annual Leaf Rake was discontinued in 1954.
For understandable reasons, the Annual Leaf Rake saw attendance drop due to the introduction of mechanical leaf rakers and power mowers. In response, the university cancelled the tradition.
13. 1971 marked the first time the entire campus was eligible to vote for Homecoming queen.
In an effort led by the student organization “The Association of Women for Awareness, Responsibility, and Equity”, protests were taken during the election to stand against the process of Homecoming queen being a title only voted on my men at the university, with no King being elected. Their efforts were successful, as all students gained the right to vote the following year. Additionally, the the time of election changed so that the Homecoming queen had the responsibility of reigning over all events.