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From 1941 gridiron queen to 2009 homecoming royalty: A look back in time at the history of Kearney's homecoming rituals, traditions
Chevonne Forgey
Antelope Staff
Info graphic by Sam BatesHomecoming at UNK dates back to the late 1930s
Info graphic by Sam Bates
Courtesy 1965 and 1971 yearbooks.

Homecoming week is a week unlike any other. It is probably safe to say that homecoming week makes everyone feel the college spirit at UNK, as students have always prided themselves on the celebrations that accompany it.

Throughout the years though, UNK, previously Kearney State College, has established numerous memories and traditions when it comes to homecoming: kings and queens, football game victories and decorations to boot.

Homecoming on our campus began approximately between the years of 1936 to 1940. By the year 1941, Kearney State College had already embodied the homecoming spirit by participating in a huge citywide homecoming parade, the traditional bonfire, a homecoming dance and the crowning of the “Gridiron Queen” and the “Most Representative Man” on campus.

By 1964, the floats and large homecoming parade became one of the most momentous parts of the homecoming tradition. All of the social organizations and well as three of the religious organizations on campus spent many afternoons and evenings working hard on their floats, while each dorm on campus participated in homecoming week by constructing a dorm display.

Looking back over the years, the theme for the 1964 dorm displays was “advertisements and commercials.”

That was back in a day and age when the Men’s Hall on campus won the dorm display competition with a display that read, “Kill the Wayne Wildcats Dead.”

And in the 1960's, Kearney State College recognized only a homecoming queen, not a homecoming king.

By 1970, homecoming changed on campus from enthusiasm and spirit interaction and evolved into experiences beyond college. The theme that year was, “With a little help from our friends” which presented a time of peace from the friends of all nations.

In fact, in 1970, old traditions were no longer viewed or practiced. It was the first year the homecoming royalty was announced at halftime of the homecoming football game.

Then, 20 years ago, in 1989 Kearney established the ever-popular lip-sync competition.

Overall, throughout the years of homecoming at UNK, the spirit and support of the campus and community have been immense. As new activities replace old ones, and the gridiron queen becomes the homecoming queen, parades dissolve and lip-sync competitions begin, the campus will always
keep the same mind-set throughout the entire homecoming week.  

The goal is still to have the UNK spirit. The uniqueness of this week has evolved throughout the years and it will continue to do so.


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