The Heights Throughout The Century
Published: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 22, 2013 19:09
The first days of fall have arrived at Boston College, signifying the return of boots and North Face jackets, pumpkin spice lattes, the first midterms of the semester, and, for the first time in just over 20 years, Homecoming Weekend. In anticipation of BC’s first organized Homecoming activities since 1996 and its first annual Spirit Week, a look at Homecoming events of the past offers a glimpse at what we can expect from this long-absent BC fall tradition.
The first BC “Home Coming Night” was Friday, Oct. 18, 1935. The issue of The Heights from that day describes a supper hosted by the Alumni Association, followed by a comedy show and performance by the BC orchestra. A rally for the BC v. Michigan State football game also took place that night: an automobile parade drove from campus into the city, followed by a foot parade to Hotel Statler, where a reception for the Michigan State “squad” was held. Arts and Sciences students held red lights to guide the way, while cheers and BC songs were sung. The next day, the BC Eagles beat Michigan State in a thrilling 18-6 victory.
Despite this successful first Homecoming Weekend, it was not until 1962 that Homecoming finally became an organized event. The Oct. 19, 1962 issue of The Heights raves about the upcoming “Houston Homecoming Extravaganza,” sponsored by the junior class. The weekend started with an informal Friday night party at the Hotel Beaconfield, with entertainment by rock and roll group Wing Digos. The following day, a buffet lunch was held in McElroy before the BC vs. Houston football game, which BC won, 14-0. Later that night, the Homecoming Extravaganza was held at Hotel Somerset’s Louis XIV Ballroom, with music by Ruby Newman’s Society Orchestra and Ken Calabria Trio. The Homecoming of 1962 also marked the first year that a Homecoming queen was elected, as girls from the senior class sent in pictures that were then voted on.
Similar Homecoming festivities continued to grow throughout the ’60s. The Oct. 8, 1963 issue of The Heights reported “one of the finest Homecoming Weekends in the history of the University.” Friday evening of the weekend brought forth “a truly superb piece of entertainment” in the form of the Hootenanny, a show consisting of various folk singing groups, the first BC performance of its kind. On Saturday, the BC Eagles beat Vanderbilt 19-6, and the ensuing victory dance featured the Star Kenton band, a huge attraction for the students of 1963. The climax of the 1964 Homecoming Weekend came in the form of Fats Domino, the first “big name” rock and roll band to perform at BC. Alternatively, the 1967’s Homecoming was a disappointment to some students when BC could not sign the preferred Righteous Brothers or the Woody Allen Show with Judy Collins, leaving the inadequate Otis Redding to perform at the Homecoming Concert.
After the Homecoming Committee disbanded in 1968, there were two more years of organized Homecoming Events before a hiatus of eight years.
In 1979, in an effort to cure student apathy and meet the desire for more spirit and enthusiasm on campus, the Student Alumni Relations Committee of UGBC organized a Homecoming weekend. The theme was “Let the Echoes Ring Again.” The Oct. 1, 1979 issue of The Heights describes the events: an attempt by BC students to break the Guinness World Record for bubble gum blowing (with no success), the Homecoming Ball, a 3.5 mile road race around campus, and a pre-game parade with floats designed by BC students and alumni. This weekend was seen in the Oct. 8 issue of The Heights as the first opportunity for BC community members to join together for a common cause since Vietnam posters had been posted around campus. Homecoming was organized in “recognition of the fact that Boston College ha[d] become as fragmented as the world around it,” as a way to reunite and reinstall pride in the BC community.
This revitalization of the Homecoming tradition continued throughout the ’80s, despite a gradual decline in excitement for the events. In September of 1986, the $11,000 worth of damage done to the Marriot Hotel Copley Place during the Homecoming Ball essentially ended the tradition of grand-scale Homecoming Celebrations.
Throughout the 1990s, the Homecoming tradition continued to decline. While the Homecoming ball continued to be an annual event, 1992 marked the last Homecoming pep rally, and in 1996 Homecoming weekend lost the Pops to Parents’ Weekend. Since then, Homecoming had ceased to exist as it once did: as an event to look forward to, as an event to bring the entire BC community together.
Until now, when in 2013 we will be experiencing the first “large-scale” Homecoming Weekend in 21 years, as well as BC’s first annual Spirit Week. It is hard not to look at past Homecoming weekends and be inspired by the anticipation built up around campus before each event. Since 1935, BC Homecoming has been just that, a “home coming” for the alumni, a chance for current BC students to welcome back the alumni that walked before them. Along with the old traditions of the Homecoming dance, alumni reception, and pep rally, BC students will have the chance to start new traditions in the form of fireworks over Shea and a Spirit Competition. As we look forward to our own Homecoming Weekend, a look at the past reveals the timelessness of the sacred fall tradition, as past and present members of the BC community have the opportunity to share in a common BC pride and celebrate what it truly means to be an Eagle.