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A Mountaineer Tradition: Homecoming Through the Decades

Appalachian’s kazoo band, a staple in the annual homecoming parade, walking down King Street in Boone in 1997. Photo by Mike Rominger

By Megan Bruffy

In honor of Appalachian State University’s upcoming celebrations, enjoy a snapshot of the university’s homecoming history, which first began in 1934. Spanning more than eight decades, this slideshow features a look at some of Appalachian’s early athletics fields — including College Field and Conrad Stadium — the university’s kazoo band, themed homecoming parade floats and many iterations of the Mountaineers’ mascot, Yosef.

A 1940 letter provided by University Archives and Records, housed in Appalachian’s Belk Library and Information Commons, describes the original intent of homecoming: “Most colleges and universities set aside one day each year for the entertainment of their alumni. This is known as ‘homecoming day’, and homecoming it is, for many former students assemble to renew associations with their foster mother and campus brothers and sisters.”

Modern editions of homecoming at Appalachian continue to center on the idea of reuniting alumni with fellow graduates — as well as current students, faculty and staff. This year, for instance, the Appalachian Alumni Association will host reunions, a breakfast, a block party and a football tailgate, among other events. Likewise, all of Appalachian’s student organizations are encouraged to engage in homecoming week festivities, including the homecoming parade, a banner contest, a lip sync battle and a field day.

Appalachian has long fostered university camaraderie through homecoming, as evidenced by this additional excerpt from the 1940 letter describing the year’s planned events: “There will be a ‘pep’ demonstration by the student body in the college auditorium. This will be followed by a bonfire on the practice athletic field. These meetings are to homecoming what a band is to soldiers. Any alumnus attending will be stimulated along with the team and student body.”

As this slideshow illustrates, for more than 80 years, students, alumni, faculty, staff and university friends have annually united to celebrate the Appalachian Community, past and present.

A float designed to look like a birthday cake in the 1965 homecoming parade on King Street. Photo courtesy of Appalachian State University Archives and Records
A float in the 1953 homecoming parade celebrates “50 years of progress.” Appalachian began as Watauga Academy in 1899 and then became the state-supported institution Appalachian Training School in 1903. The pictured 1953 homecoming float refers to Appalachian’s 50th anniversary as a state-supported institution. In 1925, the university became Appalachian State Normal School; in 1929, it was named Appalachian State Teachers College; and in 1967, it became Appalachian State University, as it is known today. Photo courtesy of Appalachian State University Archives and Records
Appalachian cheerleaders ride with Yosef in the 2003 homecoming parade down King Street. Yosef has been the official mascot of Appalachian State University since the 1940s. Photo by Mike Rominger
Appalachian students rock out on a float in the 2008 homecoming parade. Photo by Marie Freeman
Appalachian students dance on a 1950s-inspired homecoming parade float in 2003. Photo by Mike Rominger
Appalachian State University Chancellor Sheri Everts in her first homecoming parade as chancellor in 2014. Photo by Marie Freeman
Members of Appalachian State Teachers College gather for 1937 homecoming events. Photo from the 1938 issue of Appalachian’s The Rhododendron yearbook
The marching band and majorettes at the 1955 homecoming football game on College Field, which was located approximately on the present site of Appalachian’s Rankin Science Building. It served as the primary football and track field until the construction of Conrad Stadium in 1962. Photo courtesy of Appalachian State University Archives and Records
Fans cheer on the Appalachian State Teachers College football team during the 1938 homecoming game. Photo from the 1939 issue of Appalachian’s The Rhododendron yearbook
Fans sit on the bleachers during the 1960 homecoming game at College Field. Alumni Association officers can be seen in the center, and attendees from the classes of 1935 and 1940 can be seen toward the back. Photo courtesy of Appalachian State University Archives and Records
Majorettes on the football field at Conrad Stadium during a halftime performance at the 1965 homecoming game. Conrad Stadium was built in 1962 and named in honor of former Appalachian trustee William J. Conrad. In 1988, it was renamed Kidd Brewer Stadium, after one of the most successful head coaches in Appalachian football history. Photo courtesy of Appalachian State University Archives and Records
A homecoming football game, circa 1960, on College Field. Photo courtesy of Appalachian State University Archives and Records
Appalachian’s marching band stands in formation on the field at Conrad Stadium during the 1973 homecoming game. Photo courtesy of Appalachian State University Archives and Records
The university’s mascot, Yosef, cheering during the 1986 homecoming football game. Photo courtesy of Appalachian State University Archives and Records
The late Gerald Adams ’54 ’62, right, and his wife, Julia Adams ’56, known to the Appalachian Community as Mr. and Mrs. Yosef, bedecked in black and gold at a 2006 homecoming game. Photo by Mike Rominger
Students pose with the university’s mascot, Yosef, during Appalachian’s 1999 homecoming celebrations. Photo by Mike Rominger

Appalachian cheerleaders and the university mascot, Yosef, stand with the 2006 homecoming queen, who holds the university’s first national championship football trophy. Photo by Mike Rominger