Homecoming celebrates its centennial year

Liz Dowell, Copy Editor

The first Homecoming in 1915 consisted of Chapel exercises, a football game, a parade and even a dance. There was not a Homecoming queen or king that year, which was also the same year The Daily Eastern News had its first publication.

Historically, Homecoming did not have a set of traditional activities, which is why this year members of the Homecoming committee want to start something.

Alexandria Neff, a Panther pride committee member, said because it is the 100th Homecoming, the committee is trying to create a new tradition, a bonfire.

“We wanted a bonding experience for our students,” Neff said. “We were just trying to think about how to make this Homecoming special and make our mark.”

Neff said the committee wanted to come up with something that the next Homecoming committees could do 100 years from now.

Homecoming also had an annual dance and meal, but those events ended for unknown reasons; in fact, there was not even a Homecoming king mentioned in the Warbler Yearbook until the 1980s.

Tavia Fuqua, a Homecoming co-coordinator, said she feels like there is more student involvement, and she has been hearing a lot of good feedback from the student body.

Fuqua said the feedback is making it easier to improve on different things concerning Homecoming and she really appreciates the comments. The feedback also helps the committee to come up with new ideas from different students.

“It seems more lively to me,” Fuqua said. “I mean we decorated the campus and which it was different than last year. I didn’t see a lot of decorations.”

Fuqua said they also got the community involved too and little things just to make a difference year to year.

“We’re going to do a bonfire,” Fuqua said. “We’re going to try to keep that tradition every year. As far as traditions, Eastern doesn’t have any, that’s why we wanted to start the bonfire tradition.”

There have been a lot of changes to Homecoming; in the beginning it was only a weekend celebration—now it is an entire week.

All historical information regarding Homecoming came from old editions of the Warbler yearbook.


  • In 1924 there was an annual Homecoming dinner and dance, a football game, activities such as political speeches from Andy Gump, elephant acts and the “Unusual Family” was impersonated by some of the boys in the sophomore class.
  • 1934 Katherine Hall was crowned Queen, there was a bonfire and Will Rogers show and “Stunt Night” replaced the former Homecoming play.
  • 1944 Thelma Whiteleadther was crowned Queen during the 30th Homecoming celebration.
  • 1954 Earlene Petty was crowned Queen.
  • In 1964 Judith Bartlell was the Homecoming Queen, The Smothers Brothers visited the campus and they had another bonfire.
  • Despite not having a Homecoming parade in 1972, because of the lack of funds, the traditional Homecoming parade continued in its 75th celebration.
  • However, in 1973, Eastern did not have a Homecoming queen. There was talk of a scandalous controversy concerning the “real” Queen loosing some of her votes. An editorial in the yearbook expressed concerns questioning if students even cared for the presence of a Homecoming Queen.
  • In 1984, President Ronald Regan visited the campus, Chris Pfeifer became Homecoming queen; that was a rainy year for Homecoming and narrow defeat on the football field.
  • In 1994, the City Council voted to increase the bar-entry to age 21 and email was becoming a thing on campus. This was also the same year the Pemberton ghost was featured in Michael Norman and Beth Scott’s book, “Haunted America.”
  • For the 1994 Homecoming an event was held called “A Stroll Down Memory Lane.”
  • The 1994 Homecoming Celebration, held Oct. 8-10 commemorated the past 100 years of Eastern history. Erin Murphy was crowned Queen and Mark Martin was crowned King. There were also assorted activities such as: The traditional Homecoming football game and a bonfire.
  • In 1995 Eastern turned 100.
  • In 2005 Natalie Bailey was crowned homecoming Queen and Nichoulaus Pinaire was crowned King.
  • This year, the Homecoming committee is hoping to make the bonfire a traditional event; there had been obvious evidence that a bonfire had has been apart of the Homecoming activities in the past, but no evidence that it happened every year and was considered “traditional.”

Liz Dowell can be reached at 581-2812 [email protected]