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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA set to continue traditions

    Students rush the field after the UAs victory over UCLA at 2005s Homecoming football game. In 2006, its 92nd year of homecoming celebrations, the UA has the fifth-oldest homecoming tradition among universities in the nation.
    Students rush the field after the UA’s victory over UCLA at 2005’s Homecoming football game. In 2006, its 92nd year of homecoming celebrations, the UA has the fifth-oldest homecoming tradition among universities in the nation.

    The UA community will celebrate the 92nd UA Homecoming this weekend with bonfires, football, floats and other traditions.

    Only the University of Illinois, University of Indiana, University of Wisconsin and University of Missouri can trace an annual weekend return to the campus by alumni centering around a football game earlier than the UA.

    The theme for this year’s homecoming, “”Arizona Hails All Heroes,”” was chosen to honor veterans because Homecoming falls on Veteran’s Day, said Angela Ballard, assistant director for Homecoming and special events.

    Alumni return to their alma mater and attend Homecoming events for a variety of reasons, Ballard said.

    “”Homecoming is an opportunity for alumni to reconnect with friends and see what is happening on campus in the present day,”” Ballard said. “”It is an opportunity for them to connect with current students as well as stay connected with their alma mater.””

    Those attending this year’s Homecoming celebrations are following in a longstanding, important tradition, Ballard said.

    The first Homecoming game saw the Wildcats defeat Pomona College on Nov. 26, 1914, in front of an estimated crowd of 1,500 who watched from cars and horse-drawn buggies parked near University Boulevard and Park Avenue, where the Arizona State Museum now stands.

    Only World War I and World War II have caused the university to suspend Homecoming festivities, with no games in 1918 or 1943-45.

    Following World War II, one of Homecoming’s most popular traditions began in 1947 with the election by the student body of the first Homecoming queen, Tucson sophomore Ruth Tackett. Don Hayes was named the first Homecoming king in 1983.

    In conjunction with the UA’s centennial celebrations in 1985, the west end of the UA Mall between Cherry Avenue and Campbell Avenue became the scene of Saturday’s “”Tents on the Mall.”” The lively and colorful spectacle of colored tents has become the most widely attended event, other than the football game itself, according to the UA Alumni Association Web site.

    Fraternities, sororities and a variety of student, alumni and campus organizations sponsor tents on the UA Mall to allow alumni, students, family and friends to gather for entertainment and socializing.

    This year will mark the 50th anniversary of the class of 1956, which will be celebrated with several events throughout the weekend, including a class reunion and dinner and dancing in the Student Union Memorial Center.

    Frances Curtis, an alumna of the class of 1956 who will be attending this year’s celebrations, is no stranger to UA Homecoming traditions.

    “”I have not been to many homecomings

    recently, but I went to a dozen or so in from the 1960s to the 1980s,”” Curtis said. “”I enjoy them because it allows me to catch up with old friends.””

    There have been major changes in the size of the student body and the number of colleges and departments that have been added to the campus in addition to changes in Homecoming festivities, Curtis said.

    “”When I was a student, there was not such a big variety of events that were put on by each separate college or club,”” Curtis said. “”Everyone participated in the same festivities without differentiation.””

    Hank Harrison, a Tucson native and co-chair of the Class of 1956 Reunion Committee, will be attending his first Homecoming since he graduated.

    “”I have not been able to return for any previous Homecomings because I served as an army officer in Virginia and other locations for over 30 years,”” Harrison said.

    The overall growth of the university in the past 50 years is the most significant change since he was a student, Harrison said.

    “”I can remember when there was only one side to the football stadium,”” Harrison said.

    “”The overall growth of the university, both physically and in the size of the student body, has been tremendous,”” he said.

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