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Homecoming Festivities Return After Four Decades

Sprit Week, Pep Rally Will Lead Up To Weekend

Heights Editor

Published: Sunday, September 8, 2013

Updated: Monday, September 9, 2013 00:09

BC vs Army

Judy Mello / 1988


Boston College’s first recorded Homecoming festivities took place on Friday, Oct. 18, 1935. The Alumni Association of Boston College hosted a Homecoming supper at the senior assembly hall, alongside an evening of entertainment in the Bapst Library auditorium. The same evening, BC undergraduates held a student automobile parade down Commonwealth Avenue into the city of Boston, ending, presumably, at the hotel where football opponents from Michigan State University were staying.

Beginning Sunday, Sept. 30, and continuing through the Saturday of the BC-Army football game, BC Athletics—in partnership with UGBC, the Division of Student Affairs, Nights on the Heights (NOTH), and the BC Alumni Association—will be hosting Homecoming Weekend and Spirit Week.

Following an alumni reception at the Cardigan Alumni Center, Homecoming Weekend will kick off with a football pep rally Friday night at 7:30 p.m. on Shea Field, ending in a fireworks display. A FanFest will be held in the Flynn Recreation Complex, alongside a series of alumni events for former varsity athletes on Saturday, before the game. The ’88 BC and Army teams will be recognized during the game, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first game of American college football played in Europe, Nov. 19, 1988 in Dublin, Ireland. The weekend’s events will end with the UGBC’s annual Homecoming Ball at the Sheraton Boston, the single enduring tradition of Homecoming over the last few decades.

Director of Athletics Brad Bates described the inspiration for Homecoming Weekend as twofold.

“One, we wanted to engage our alumni in ways that would get them back to the Heights, and provide them with a home football game as entertainment and a reason for everyone to get together as classmates, as teammates, as friends, visit former faculty members and that sort of thing,” Bates said.

“And the other part of it that inspired the concept was that there’s been this ongoing Homecoming Ball, and so integrating the student event with alumni events was really what we’re trying to engage around football weekend.”

Leading up into Homecoming Weekend, BC will host its first Spirit Week. This new tradition is set to revolve around the Homecoming Cup Competition, a week-long contest in which teams from the University’s student organizations and learning communities will compete in a series of spirited Eagle challenges.

“Boston College students are inherently competitive people,” Bates said. “I suspect that there’s going to be some very interesting and passionate teams that are going to be entering into the competition.”

Beginning around the 1930s, the homecoming tradition at BC has seen sporadic growth and decline over the decades. It began as far less of an organized event, existing rather as a series of impromptu student gatherings, and automobile parades. The event grew through the 1960s, drawing a large alumni base and featuring A-list acts. In 1967, Otis Redding performed at BC, after the social commission failed to book The Righteous Brothers or the Woody Allen Show with Judy Collins—this apparently drew criticism from student groups who viewed Otis Redding as an outdated act.

In 1968, the Homecoming Committee was liquidated, and 1970 marked the last of the substantive homecoming events for eight years.

In 1979, the tradition of Homecoming Weekend returned—it included a road race, and a parade of floats designed by student organizations. This Homecoming was also marked by a failed attempt by BC bubble blowers to break the Guinness Book of World Records’ record for largest bubble.

By 1981, Homecoming Weekend was drawing crowds of over 81,000. This was also the year of the first annual, and also the last annual, Homecoming Tailgate Contest. The winning entry was “Kostka’s 11-Keg Bash.” The next year, Doug Flutie led BC to a 32-17 victory over Army at a homecoming game held at West Point.

Through the ’80s, Homecoming Weekend saw gradual decline. A near decade-worth of large Homecoming celebrations seemingly ended in 1986, when that year’s Homecoming Ball ended with over $11,000 in damages to the Marriott Hotel Copley Place.

BC’s last Homecoming pep rally was held in 1992 in O’Neill Plaza. Tom Coughlin, current head coach of the New York Giants, led BC to a 28-0 victory over Navy that weekend. Additionally, UGBC hosted a poorly-attended Homecoming concert at Conte Forum, featuring the original Temptations that year. In 1993, the Boston Pops gave the first of their annual benefit concerts as part of Homecoming Weekend. In 1996, this concert was moved to Parents’ Weekend, leaving UGBC’s Homecoming Ball the orphan of the longtime homecoming tradition.

“We want to make sure this is a tradition that is every single year and people have an expectation for it,” said Jamie DiLoreto, associate athletic director for external operations.

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