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Honoring Homecoming’s “Living Traditions”

Traditions are bound to come and go anytime a celebration spans the decades – and University of Wisconsin-Madison Homecoming is no exception.

Wendy Krause Hathaway '04
October 12, 2014

Traditions are bound to come and go anytime a celebration spans the decades - and Homecoming at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is no exception.

While some customs have gone the way of the campus bonfire (see: "hobo parades"), it's a safe bet these three Homecoming traditions will be around for another century.

Fan Flair

Homecoming buttons years 1911, 1926, 1949 and 1988; collection by Pete Christianson

Alumni who returned to Madison for the UW's first Homecoming in 1911 were given a name badge and could purchase a lapel button for 10-cents each. The Homecoming committee raised $2,000 from button sales, and Badgers have been collecting them ever since. (Meet one such Badger — "The Button Man," whose collection of Homecoming pins is a portal to UW's past.)

Everyone Loves a Parade

UW Homecoming parades through the years
The first Homecoming parade in 1912 was actually just a roving band of fans who gathered on the east side of campus to walk together to Camp Randall. Ever since, Badgers young and old have gathered on State Street on the evening before the football game to catch what is now an annual parade. Sights and sounds include festive floats decorated by students, fraternities, sororities, residence halls and organizations, along with alumni volunteers, Bucky Badger, the UW Spirit Squad and the Badger Band.

Spirit in the Stands

Wisconsin football Homecoming games through the years
We can't forget the highlight of Homecoming weekend for many alumni — catching the Wisconsin football team at Camp Randall Stadium. The Minnesota Gophers visited Madison on November 18, 1911 for the UW's first Homecoming game, which came down to a mere six inches and an early-blown whistle to end in a 6-6 tie. But Badger fans never lost their faith, and Wisconsin has claimed a victory in eight of its last 10 Homecoming games (2004-2013).

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