The History of Homecoming
The Blue Key Honor Fraternity, under the leadership of Dean Branstetter, sponsored the first Homecoming celebration on Friday, Nov. 3, 1939, which opened with an assembly in Kirk Auditorium. The parade had three bands and 21 floats, and Martha Decker, of Callao, Mo., was named as the first Homecoming queen.
At the football game, the freshmen team won the Tug of War competition at halftime, and the Mules of Warrensburg beat the Bulldogs 21-7. The game was followed by a banquet at the Travelers Hotel dining room. In the evening, a Homecoming Dance in Kirk Auditorium featured Dick Ames and his orchestra.
The Homecoming events continued to expand over the years, and University President Walter Ryle appointed a Homecoming Committee in 1958 to coordinate the activities. Six faculty members made up the first Homecoming Committee: Robert L. McKinney, chairman; Dr. C. H. Allen; Jimmy Dougherty; Dean Melva Rae Gingerich; Felix Rothschild and Paul Strub. Today, student members of the Homecoming Committee are involved with the events for students, while the University’s Office of Advancement plans the events for alumni.
Recent Homecoming celebrations have featured a pep rally, parade, banquet, and team competitions to encourage school pride and spirit. Other activities, such as the lip sync competition, tailgate, and a 5K run/walk, have become part of the festivities. Many alumni return to campus to help celebrate Homecoming, one of the University’s most cherished traditions.