Leon Flint, KU journalism professor, pitched the idea of Homecoming as a way to entertain alumni.
1921: first Homecoming parade
1929: first flying Homecoming with an airship of flying Jayhawks
1941: Dandelion Day was introduced as part of Homecoming. Students and faculty formed teams to see who could pick the most dandelions. This tradition ended in 1949 when the University started spraying weeds.
1971: 13 pranksters drove to Manhattan to change the 100-foot high KSU letters to spell KU — a three-hour project in honor of Homecoming. They also wrote “Go Big Blue” on the road from the turnpike to the stadium and dropped 150 pairs of red and blue underwear from an airplane onto the K-State campus.
1972: first KU Alumni Band performance
1973: Sonny and Cher performed on campus
1976: students had a window-painting contest downtown with businesses willing to pay $10 to participate.
It was suggested in 1977 that students be let out of class early for a TGIH (Thank God It’s Homecoming) pep rally, keg party and dance at Potter Lake.
1977: Beach Boys performed on campus
Living groups decorated their own front lawns for Homecoming until 1978. Due to the oil embargo, the vote was to move back to a parade with floats.
Homecoming pep rallies used to be held in front of Strong Hall during classes. Each class was shortened by five minutes to allow time for a 15-minute rally the Friday before the Homecoming game.
1991: The parade moved to Jayhawk Boulevard.
1993: The Homecoming parade ended with the rededication of the Union, marking the end of a six-year, $11.5 million renovation. During the ceremony, a time capsule was placed behind the 1993 cornerstone. The time capsule contains a copy of the University’s new non-smoking policy and the “secret recipe” for Joe’s Bakery, among a few other items. It will be reopened in 2050.
1996: The first year parade floats were judged in three different categories: moving parts, non-moving parts and decorated vehicle.
1997: Budig Hall was dedicated during Homecoming week. Dignitaries in attendance included Chancellor Robert Hemenway, Governor Bill Graves and former Chancellor Gene Budig.
2001: The parade’s route was changed to begin at the Kansas Union and end at Allen Fieldhouse, and floats were left on the AFH lawn so Late Night in the Phog attendees could see them.
2006: KU welcomed comedian and actress Kathy Griffin to the Lied Center for a Homecoming week performance.
2008: The Ambler Student Recreation Center was dedicated during Homecoming week, and David Ambler, the rec center’s namesake, served as the parade’s Grand Marshal.
2013: The Homecoming parade moved back to downtown Lawrence. Jayhawks and zombies peacefully co-existed on Massachusetts Street, as the annual Lawrence Zombie Walk took place the same evening.