A blackout in Ohio Stadium and a parade and pep rally marked 107 years of homecoming events at The Ohio State University with a nod to the university’s founding history.
The theme for the 2019 homecoming was “Back to the Future,” as Ohio State continues a yearlong celebration of its sesquicentennial.
Hundreds of alumni and supporters followed the homecoming parade led by President Michael V. Drake on Friday evening. The crowds packed the Ohio Union for a pep rally with head football coach Ryan Day and the captains of the football team.
Included in the parade were Homecoming Courts from OSU’s regional campuses, including The Ohio State University at Mansfield.
“It doesn’t matter how long you go away for or how far, we all know you can come back here and call it home, The Ohio State University,” Molly Ranz Calhoun, interim vice president for student life, said at the pep rally. “We are an institution steeped in tradition and we know with tradition comes energy and passion.”
Homecoming officially began as an idea from professor and alumnus George Rightmire in 1912. The first homecoming was an event called “Ohio State Day” held prior to a football game.
Alumni Association President and CEO Jim Smith said the tradition may be more than a century old, but returning alumni continue to see Ohio State as one of a kind.
“If you were here 107 years ago, you would come back and say, ‘Wow, this university is incredible and so are the students here,’” Smith said. “In 107 years of homecomings, coming back and coming together is truly something special.”
Festivities have evolved over the years. The pep rally became a staple of homecoming week in 1918. In 1920, a homecoming dance was added to the celebration and floats were organized for the parade as early as 1920.
Lynn Goorey Ganz, the 1959 homecoming queen, was the grand marshal this year.
You can view the Homecoming Parade and the contingent from Mansfield at this location online. The regional campuses float is near the end of the video.
Photo: Pi.1415926535 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]