Honoring Millitary Service
A new tradition
Beyond commencement, the Homecoming parade is Illinois State’s longest standing tradition. Each fall, thousands of Redbirds return to Normal to reconnect with campus and friends.
An early form of Homecoming occurred in June 1919, with an event organized by faculty and students as a way to recognize the service of ISNU students and alumni who had served during the Great War (now known as World War I) that had ended the previous November.
Football, a dance, and waffles
During a trip to universities in the east during the winter of 1920-1921, ISNU President David Felmley noted what he called the "homecoming trend" at other schools. He decided to bring the idea to Normal and appointed a committee. The first fall Homecoming–now considered the University's first "official" Homecoming-was held on November 4-5, 1921. Approximately 700 alumni returned for a pre-game parade from Old Main to the football field, a party in Fell Hall, a dance, and free waffle breakfast.
The celebration became an annual tradition, with a downtown Normal "hobo parade" in 1923. Campus clubs competed for the honor of being recognized as the "dingiest" group. The event became the forerunner to the parade that still exists today. Houses were decorated for the first time in 1927.
The main event
For years the Homecoming football game has been the highlight of the week with large crowds in the Hancock Stadium stands and plenty of action on the field:
It's your No. 3 ranked Redbirds vs. No. 20 ranked Western Illinois Saturday at Hancock Stadium at 2 p.m. on HOMECOMING at Illinois State University ... if you aren't already excited, watch this and you will be! #BackTheBirds
Posted by Illinois State University Athletics on Friday, October 23, 2015