UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 8:53am
Baylor University will welcome home alumni from across the country for its annual Homecoming Celebration Wednesday, Oct. 20, through Saturday, Oct. 23. This year’s celebration will mark the 101st year since Baylor began Homecoming in 1909 and kick off the next 100 years.
This year, Baylor Homecoming again holds true to many of its traditions while also incorporating new opportunities. Homecoming events will include a worship service, Freshman Mass Meeting, bonfire, Pigskin Revue, Homecoming Parade, football game, the crowning of the Homecoming Queen and her Court, and Singspiration.
Homecoming Worship Service
New to Homecoming this year is a campus-wide student worship service that will be held at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, on Fountain Mall. The first Homecoming in 1909 was marked by a sermon given by legendary Baptist statesman George W. Truett. This year’s service will highlight elements of the original sermon, with worship led by The Robbie Seay Band.
Freshman Mass Meeting
Homecoming festivities will continue with the annual Freshman Mass Meeting at 11 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, in Waco Hall.
During this meeting, Baylor students will honor the names of 10 students who died in a bus-train accident on Jan. 22, 1927, in Round Rock. The “Immortal Ten” are alphabetically presented as their story is told to the audience. They have become a hallowed tradition symbolizing the “Baylor spirit” that is made visible in the concluding candle-lighting ceremony on the steps outside of Waco Hall. Freshmen will then process to Fountain Mall to build the bonfire.
Extravaganza, Pep Rally and Bonfire
At 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, the next tradition will be brought to life again with Extravaganza, which has returned to Fountain Mall in the heart of Baylor’s campus. Extravaganza provides all kinds of family-friendly activities, including food, rides, face-painting and a new addition, Friday Night Flashback. Admission is free.
The new addition to Extravaganza, Friday Night Flashback, will be held on the first floor of the Bill Daniel Student Center. The interactive exhibits will highlight Baylor’s favorite traditions, such as Pigskin Revue, the Baylor Line, school colors, the fight song and a tribute to Baylor’s participation in Big 12 athletics. Additionally, tours will be given to offer alumni a chance to walk down memory lane through a nostalgic tour of campus. Extravaganza will be followed at 9 p.m. by the Pep Rally and Bonfire.
The bonfire, which started in 1946 to defend the campus and mascot from the Aggies, has grown stronger over the years to include a pep rally, motivational speeches and activities for the whole family.
Pigskin Revue, quite possibly the favorite of many returning alumni, will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, 6:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, and 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, in Waco Hall.
Established in 1958, 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.
One of the highlights of Baylor’s Homecoming festivities is the crowning of the Homecoming Queen. This year the crowning will be during Pigskin Revue at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, in Waco Hall.
In the early 1900s Baylor produced various sorts of royalty, including a football queen elected by the team and a “May Queen,” but it is the Homecoming Queen who reigns supreme. Today’s queens are selected based on interviews by three judges, who are appointed by the Baylor Chamber of Commerce.
Baylor’s annual Homecoming Parade – believed to be the oldest and largest collegiate homecoming parade in the country – will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, in downtown Waco and progress to Fifth Street on the Baylor campus. This year’s parade will feature more than 130 entries, including 13 hand-made floats. The grand marshals for the parade will be Baylor President Ken Starr and First Lady Alice Starr.
The Baylor Homecoming Parade will be broadcast live from 9 to 11 a.m. on KCEN-TV Ch. 6 and streamed live on the web at www.centraltexasnow.com. John Morris and Lori Fogleman will host the live parade broadcast.
The Homecoming football game will be played between the Baylor Bears and Kansas State Wildcats at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at Floyd Casey Stadium. For ticket information, visit www.baylorbears.com.
One of the more recent Baylor Homecoming traditions is Singspiration. This year the event will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, at the Seventh and James Baptist Church, located at 602 James Ave.
This year, Singspiration will highlight the outstanding tradition of music at Baylor that has played such a major role in ministry and outreach throughout the 20th century to the present. Special musical guests will include the Baylor Men’s Choir, the Baylor Women’s Choir and the BRH Choir.
For more information on any of these events, a full schedule or ticket information, visit www.baylor.edu/homecoming.
Homecoming is a long-standing tradition at Baylor that started in 1909, when Baylor alumni received a surprising invitation from their alma mater. A postcard signed by three professors asked the graduates to return to campus to “renew former association and friendships, and catch the Baylor spirit again.”
According to the 1910 Round Up, a massive campaign of correspondence, advertising and organization encouraged graduates to return for a celebration planned for Thanksgiving weekend. On Wednesday, Nov. 24, 1909, the first-ever Homecoming began with a band concert, followed by a reception hosted by President Samuel Palmer Brooks and an “old-time soiree” in Burleson Hall that evening.
The next day, class reunions began with a program of speeches by professors, administrators and alumni, with musical interludes by student groups. Topics for the speeches included “Dr. Burleson’s Chapel Talks,” “Baylor Men as Citizens,” “How I Felt Once When the Other Society Beat Mine” and “How I Came to Love the Baylor Girls.”
At 2 p.m. Baylor launched its first Homecoming Parade from the corner of 11th St. and Washington Ave. Parade entries numbered well over 130, with 60 each of automobiles and carriages, plus student organizations on foot. As it is today, the parade was led by law enforcement and the Baylor band.
The entire city of Waco joined in, the Round Up reported, with “thousands of people wearing the Baylor colors, while hundreds of vehicles, the street-cars, and even the bicycles of the messenger-boys were ornamented with Green and Gold. The city was truly in gala attire.”
The football game started just 30 minutes later on Carroll Field. Nearly 5,000 people attended the football game, which was the final one of the season. Baylor defeated TCU 6-3.
While many Homecoming celebrations around the nation originated in the late teens or 1920s, few were as early as Baylor’s.