Homecoming Events and Traditions
Our Homecoming Traditions
The 1920s marked the beginning of a tradition that is a favorite among Tarleton students—the beating of the drum . At the height of the rivalry between JTAC and NTAC, the burning of the opponent’s bonfire prior to the scheduled celebration was a popular undertaking . During this time, Tarleton students would station themselves around the perimeter of the rock wall to guard the bonfire . A drum was beaten 24 hours a day until kick off of the football game to discourage NTAC students from invading campus . Today, organizations and residence hall students carry on this tradition during Homecoming week by beating the drum on Tuesday evening and continuing until kickoff on Saturday . The original drum was suspended from a frame; today, 55 gallon steel drums are used . The winner of the Yell Contest beats the drum following the Plowboys.
The Homecoming 5k was started in 2008 by Daron Trussell in order to add more tradition to the weekend. It was an opportunity to get more alumni and community involved in Tarleton's annual celebration. The first 5k (3.1 mile) race was held in 2008 and had just over 100 participants with numbers steadily increasing each year. The course is flat and fast and held entirely on campus with makes the race even more appealing for the beautiful campus scenery.
This year’s race will be a Color Run (Color Me Purple). There will be various "powder paint' locations throughout the course where runners will be "painted' with a different color similar to The Color Run.
The race will also honor 2 student workers (Hayley Burns and Anthony Gonzales) who passed away while employed with us this year. An endowed memorial scholarship has now been created so that we can honor those who are gone by supporting students with scholarships that help keep their memory alive.
The parade begins at Memorial Stadium and encircles the Tarleton campus . Floats, bands and marching units from Tarleton and surrounding communities participate in the parade each year.
Named in honor of the Tarleton Athletic Hall of Fame member, the J. Dixon White Homecoming Golf Classic is held each fall in conjunction with Homecoming activities at Tarleton. The event celebrates the memory of one of the school’s top golfers.
J. Dixon White attended Tarleton in 1931-33 and twice won the Texas Junior College individual title. He was captain of the 1932 team that won the Junior College Golf Classic and he was ranked among the top ten golfers in the nation. White was among the 25 charter members of the Tarleton Athletic Hall of Fame when it was created in 1980.
Longtime Tarleton golf coach, Donnie Campbell, organized the first alumni tournament in the early 1980s as a fund-raising project for the Texan golf team. The next year, the tournament was named in honor of J. Dixon White and the Tarleton alumnus was on hand to inaugurate that first competition. When Campbell retired in 1991, the Department of Recreational Sports took over management of the tournament. Ronnie Giles and Robert Nimmo have since served as tournament directors.
The “Launching of the Ducks,” similar to the wishing well, is where Tarleton students write their wishes and/or goals on their very own rubber duck. The ducks are then launched into the reflection pools of the Nursing Building. There the ducks sit until Saturday’s football game kickoff. This tradition began in 2013.
A tradition started during the 1920’s, the burning of the bonfire takes place on Friday evening of Homecoming week. The Plowboys organization is responsible for building and guarding the bonfire. The Homecoming Court is recognized during the festivities. The bonfire has been dedicated to L. V. Risinger, acclaimed defender of the bonfire during the air raid of 1939. Mr. Risinger died in 1994.
On Thursday night during Homecoming week, students stay up for the annual Midnight Breakfast celebration. The breakfast is sponsored, cooked and served by the Student Government Association’s Executive Cabinet and Freshmen Representative Council. Midnight Breakfast, a tradition that started in 1983, is best known for the Purple Pancakes.
Started in 2003, the Purple Out Picnic is an event that encourages Tarleton students to gather together to show their Tarleton pride. Purple Out is held on Tuesday of Homecoming Week and features a free cookout, music, and performances by the various spirit organizations. Students are challenged to wear their most spirited purple attire. Prizes are awarded for the most spirited and most purple. The Homecoming Court – consisting of five King nominees and five Queen nominees – is introduced and nominees participate in a Q & A session during Purple Out. The event is free to students and is hosted by SWAT.
From 1941 thru 1958 a rivalry raged between Tarleton and North Texas Agricultural College which was highlighted each Fall by the presentation of the silver bugle to the winner of the annual football game. The winner maintained “bragging rights” to the bugle until the following year’s game. NTAC won the final game in 1958, and in the years since, the hated “Grubs” (NTAC) have lost or misplaced the silver bugle. To commemorate this event, a university wide scavenger hunt to “search for the silver bugle” is held each year during Tarleton Homecoming week.
For the past several years, seeing the Tarleton Smokestack lit in purple has symbolized the beginning of Homecoming Week. Starting in 2014, the lighting of the Smokestack becomes an official Homecoming event. University President Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio will lead the lighting ceremony to kick off a week full of history and tradition. Once the Smokestack is shining in purple glory a concert immediately follows in Heritage Park.
In the early years, students assembled on the lawn of the Trogdon House, locked arms and snaked their way to the bonfire site. The dance was led by the cheerleaders, who carried torches to light the way. The activity kicked off the lighting of the bonfire festivities. With the relocation of the bonfire to the college farm, students now snake dance from the yell contest at Wisdom Gym to the start of drum beating at the Thompson Student Center.
Texan Alley was started in 2008, utilizing the grassy area behind Rec Sports and has grown from that area to 150+ parking spaces and is one of the students favorite Football Game Day traditions. Robert Nimmo started this tradition in 2008, feeling there was a need for a game day tailgating atmosphere to help bring more students to the games. Texan Alley is a great place for fellowship among Tarleton Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumni.
During the 1980s, the Student Government Association added the Yell Contest to Homecoming Week, and it quickly established itself as a traditional component of the celebration. Student organizations perform step and dance moves to original chants and lyrics; a panel of judges selects the top three teams. The winning team has the honor of beating the drum immediately following the Plowboys. Initially held in the
Administration Mall, the event moved to the Thompson Student Center amphitheater and is currently held in Wisdom Gymnasium.