Archive for Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Homecoming a true community celebration

September 24, 2013

Friday probably should be designated as “homecoming day.” On that date, both Bonner Springs and Basehor-Linwood high schools will hold their annual celebrations. In addition, it is homecoming at Free State High School in Lawrence and Allen, Texas, High School. The latter two schools pose a sad dilemma for me.

Really, it is a “good news-bad news” issue. The good news is two-fold: my grandson, Stan Skwarlo, the starting tailback, is a candidate for homecoming king at Free State and my granddaughter, Kelsey Pence, is a finalist for homecoming queen at Allen, Texas. The bad news is I obviously can’t attend both homecomings.

I should have known that might happen. Last summer when an airline was holding a ticket sale, we bought tickets to Dallas. Kelsey is a cheerleader, and we try to attend one game a year. That was the weekend chosen, and it just so happened to be homecoming at both schools.

I enjoy the excitement of an Allen game. There are about 6,000 students in school and the halftime is spectacular with 800 students on the field including the band, drill team and cheerleaders. It truly is a colorful high school show. But on the other hand, I will miss seeing Free State play Shawnee Mission West – a match-up between two of the top three 6A schools in Kansas. By the way, Alex Trent, son of local lawyer Dan Trent, is the placekicker for Free State and also a candidate for homecoming king. Alex doubles as a soccer player.

Back in my newspaper days, I covered a number of Basehor-Linwood homecoming games. This year the Bobcats will play Lansing on Friday night. Their homecoming parade and bonfire will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Bonner Springs will meet Piper at 7 p.m. on Friday. The homecoming parade is set for 5 p.m. on Friday.

It seems to me that there is a special excitement in the air on the day of homecoming. Homecomings have changed over the years; when I was in high school, the game was followed by the dance on Friday nights. Now in most instances, the dances are on Saturday nights.

I always enjoyed it when Bonner Springs held its homecoming game on Saturday afternoon. The parade was on Saturday morning, and I think it was more of a community event and involved a lot of people.

There is a lot of confusion about the origin of homecoming celebrations. Baylor, Illinois and Missouri all have laid claim to the first homecoming event in 1910 or 1911. Before that several schools in the mid- to late-1800s claimed they had the first homecoming when alumni were invited back for a special football game between the grads and the varsity squad.

The idea spread to high schools in the 1920s and 1930s. I believe that Bonner Springs held its first homecoming in the early 1930s. In 1983, all former homecoming queens were invited back to take part in the parade and were honored at halftime. The Bonner Springs-Edwardsville School Foundation has a golf tournament as part of the event.

Not to be outdone, schools without a football program came up with a unique idea of a “hoopcoming,” which evolved into the modern courtwarming that almost all area schools conduct.

I read the first homecoming parade was led by the football teams followed by the band and fans. It is now part of every homecoming in the area.

As for me, I will have divided loyalties on Friday. I will be watching the festivities in Allen while listening for a phone call from Kansas. For all the fans and students, I hope you have a lot of fun and behave in an adult manner.

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