The 1957 Homecoming Queen, Nancy Jensen, and her attendants in the homecoming parade.
Happy Homecoming, Cobbers!
Though Concordia has long held homecoming celebrations, many of the familiar traditions of today did not start until around the 1920s. In 1921, the first homecoming bonfire was held. At that time, the freshmen participated in an activity called “the gathering of the leaves,” which served a dual purpose: kindling was collected for the fire, and campus was cleaned up in preparation for returning alumni. The kindling was then guarded around the clock by two male upperclassmen in order to prevent raids from neighboring schools. But in 1937, the bonfire was banned by the Moorhead Fire Department due to safety reasons. Luckily, it returned in 1946, and continues to this day.
The homecoming parade is still a beloved tradition, but it has changed dramatically over the course of Concordia’s history. In 1936, there was no parade in order to cut costs during the Great Depression. Various campus organizations would decorate ornate, over-the-top floats, putting in a great amount of detail and creativity. At the end of the parade, the homecoming queen and her court would award a prize to the float that they deemed the best one.
Concordia’s first homecoming queen, Valborg Bjornson, was crowned in 1926. From then until 1974, it was only a queen that was crowned. In 1974, it was decided that the competition was sexist and the Don Awards were introduced. The Don Awards were presented on “Collegiate Night” to six male and six female students who were recognized for their participation and achievements within the school. The awards continued until 1976, and in 1977, both a homecoming king and queen were crowned. The tradition has continued to this day, and Concordia has honored a king and queen ever since.
While the present-day Johnny Holm dance is always a well-attended event, dancing was not even allowed on campus until 1969. In 1974, the first homecoming dance was held, though it was hosted off-campus at a local hotel. In 1979, the dance was held from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. in Memorial Auditorium on the Friday of homecoming weekend.
In an interview for the Concordian last year, 2017 Homecoming Chair and Homecoming Queen Corinne Burrell offered her perspective on the changes to traditions over the years.
“I think it’s really important that we respect and honor those traditions. Even if they don’t go all the way back to 1891, every step of the way was still formative. It’s important that we respect them as a way to celebrate what we’ve gone through together and how far we’ve come.”
Though the various homecoming traditions have undergone many changes, they are still beloved by many past and present Cobbers, and pave the way for the future.