Baylor Homecoming: Then and Now

  • Homecoming with Starr
    Baylor University President Ken Starr leads students and the Golden Wave Marching Band in a sic 'em at the Homecoming bonfire and extravaganza. Courtesy photo
  • Pigskin Revue
    Baylor's Pigskin Revue, a Homecoming tradition, showcases the winning acts from spring's All University Sing. Courtesy photo.
  • Parade
    Bruiser Bear and the Golden Wave Marching Band lead the Homecoming Parade. Courtesy of Baylor Photography.
  • Homecoming game
    Baylor football players getting pumped up during the Homecoming game. Courtesy of Baylor Photography.
Oct. 15, 2013

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Media contact: Lori Fogleman, (254) 710-6275

WACO, Texas (Oct. 15, 2013) - On Nov. 24, 1909, Baylor University held the first collegiate homecoming in the country with a bonfire, pep rally, parade and football game - won by the Bears, of course. More than 100 years later, the university proudly carries that tradition into 2013.

Though Homecoming weekend now consists of dozens of events, the original four are still observed in the form of Pigskin Revue, the bonfire, the parade and the game.

Pigskin Revue is an annual Homecoming tradition showcasing the winning acts from the previous spring's All University Sing competition. The performances are musical, Broadway-style acts prepared and performed by campus organizations, complete with costumes, elaborate backdrops and props and complex choreography.

Pigskin Revue was established in 1958 by Marie Mathis, director of the Student Union Building, who also founded All University Sing as a way to increase the quality of Sing acts and to showcase winners from the previous year.

Jessica Hinshaw, president of Zeta Tau Alpha, said her sorority has been working hard to prepare for their performance.

"Leading up to the past two weeks, the members who have chosen to participate in Pigskin have been divided into three groups and have been attending about two to three hours' worth of practice a week," she said. "As we draw nearer to Homecoming, we have had more practices that combine all three distinct parts of our act so that we can get the whole picture."

Chi Omega President Molly Kudela said her organization has also put in many hours to ensure a promising show.

"Chi Omega has been practicing for Pigskin the past six weeks. We are putting the final touches on our act so it is performance-ready," she said.

Pigskin Revue will have four showings at Waco Hall, 624 Speight Ave., at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct 17; 6:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18; and 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19. Tickets are sold out, however.

The Friday night bonfire doesn't lie far from its roots on Fountain Mall at the center of campus. In 1946, freshmen held guard during the five nights preceding the game to prevent the Texas A&M Aggies from painting the campus or kidnapping Chita, the new bear mascot. Bonfires were lit each night in different strategic locations, with the Friday night blaze serving as the climax.

Throughout the years, the Friday night bonfire tradition has grown even stronger. Much pomp and circumstance precedes the lighting of the bonfire, including a pep rally, motivational speeches and activities planned for the whole family.

The bonfire will begin at 6 p.m., Friday, Oct. 18 on Fountain Mall, 1360 S. Fifth St.

From the beginning, the Baylor Homecoming Parade was a first-class extravaganza of color that featured bands, horse-drawn carriages and wagons, student and civic organizations and a stream of dignitaries.

During the first Homecoming, the Baylor Band, as is still the custom today, headed the first Baylor Homecoming Parade and was led by its towering drum major, who, it was reported, was "six feet six in his stocking feet and without his bearskin cap."

Floats were not introduced to the parade until 1915 and became a standard during the 1920s, usually carrying patriotic themes. By 1960, practically every float carried a slogan that forecast doom for the mascot of the opposing team.

The float tradition has lived on, with many organizations on campus contributing a float that they have built from scratch.

Many organizations require members to work a certain number of hours on their float to ensure it will be finished on time. For example, every member of Pi Beta Phi is required to work at least ten hours on the float, said Sydney Browne , vice president of communications for the sorority, which may include at-home projects.

"I am just one of many workers on our float," said Anisa Magallanes, a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. "I'm a helping hand to paint, build and paper mache! I'm not going to lie though, after this, I will never be able to enjoy paper mache again."

Alaina Young, head float chair for Tri Delta sorority, said the themes of each float are not usually revealed prior to the parade.

"We like to keep the themes a secret as much as possible to be revealed at the homecoming parade," she said. "It's fun to see everyone's theme at the same time and be surprised."

The parade will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, between Austin Ave. and Eighth St. in downtown Waco. The parade also will be televised beginning at 9 a.m. on KCEN-TV and streamed live online here. For more information on the parade, including a map of its route, click here.

After the parade, Baylor fans will prepare to cheer on the Bears at the much-anticipated football game with the help of the Baylor University Golden Wave Band.

The first Baylor band, formed in 1902, had 17 members. For several years, the band remained under the auspices of the ROTC program. In 1929, the band became known as The Golden Wave after a 10-day tour through Texas in their new gold uniforms.

Now under the direction of Isaiah Odajima, D.M.A., the Baylor University Golden Wave Band entertains at halftime, keeps the spirit going throughout the game and accompanies the crowd in the fight song and school song.

Hunter Taylor, a sophomore member of the drumline, said he enjoys being a member of such a significant part of the game experience.

"The band is important to the game because it keeps everyone excited and makes for a fun atmosphere," he said.

This year the band will perform with a special guest, Taylor said. Country music singer, former "Voice" contestant and Baylor junior Holly Tucker will be singing during halftime, with an accompaniment from the Golden Wave Marching Band.

This year's game is against Iowa State University. Kickoff for the game is at 6 p.m. at Floyd Casey Stadium, 2901 Dutton Ave.

For more information on homecoming events and its history, visit http://www.baylor.edu/homecoming/.

by Rachel Miller and Kristen Bennett, student newswriters, (254) 710-6805

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

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