Iowa Alumni Magazine | December 2008 | Features

Coming Home

By Carol Harker
Nothing says alumni spirit like Homecoming.

Since the tradition began at the University of Iowa in 1912, the event has beckoned graduates to gather in Iowa City, where they've celebrated their affection for the university while reliving the antics of their youth.

Even though traditions have come and gone—and some say Homecoming's not what it used to be—people still return to honor their past and to enjoy the one event that's always played a role: the football game.

What are your fondest memories of Homecoming? Do you recall the long-standing tradition of the popular Dolphin Shows or engineering's Corn Monument, burned in celebration after a Hawkeye win? Have you snake-danced down Clinton Street or pinned on one of those golden mums, the size of a softball?

Time was that every Iowa alumna sported a Homecoming corsage, a large golden mum topped by a black block "I." Then, sometime in the '90s, university officials announced that the "I" symbol was licensed to the UI and no longer available for florists to freely use. Homecoming corsages are rarely seen today.

While it's difficult to start traditions, two remain entrenched in the Homecoming experience. One is the Hawkeye badge, launched by pharmacy professor R.A. Kuever, 1907PhG, 1911PhC, in 1924. The second, the Alumni Band, was instituted by the UI Alumni Association in 1973. Both remain popular decades after they began.

Members of the UI Alumni Band get down during a performance prior to Iowa's 2008 Homecoming game against Northwestern.
The Hawkeye Marching Band anchors the Homecoming Parade in downtown Iowa City.

Dave Hartwig and Meredith DeBoom were crowned 2008 Homecoming King and Queen following the parade and pep rally.
Alumni Herky hangs with Alumni Band drummer Bill Sornsin, 85BSE, of Seattle. Every year, former marching band members from across the U.S. return in large numbers to relive their musical memories.
Rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry wows the crowd with his signature "duck walk" as he headlines the 2008 Homecoming concert.
The alumni spirit squad celebrates another UI touchdown with Iowa fans. Here, the men complete a pushup for each Hawkeye point.