All about homecoming traditions

Photo by Taylor Gray Student Publications

With Homecoming rapidly approaching, let’s take a look at the traditions and history behind Tech’s festivities. The first Homecoming held at Tech was on June 7, 1920. It was sponsored by the Alumni Association and the celebration was initially for the group’s reorganization after having been inactive for several years. Grant Field hosted barbecues and a baseball game between Tech students and alumni back then. 

Today, Homecoming has changed quite a bit- where Tech hosts all the alumni from all over the world to come back to visit and reconnect with their alma mater and friends. Homecoming week is a festive time all around campus where students are working to create large tissue paper decorations (known as “pomp”) to adorn buildings along with painted banners and signs to celebrate Tech’s long standing traditions. The festivities all culminate in the annual Homecoming football game. This year, the Homecoming game is on Oct. 8, with an event-filled weekend leading up to it.

In addition to the decorations and football game, Homecoming has a long tradition of festivities and traditions that envelope the campus for the week leading up to the Homecoming game. 

These events include a variety of Greek sports tournaments followed by staple events like the Mini 500, Freshman Cake Race and the Ramblin’ Wreck Parade.

Homecoming is also when the student body elects two individuals for Ramblin’ Royalty, who are very involved members of the Tech community, both in academics and extracurricular activities.

The Homecoming Gala, held on Sept. 30, started off the Homecoming festivities this year. It was a free event open to all students. There was a formal dress code, and at the end of the gala, finalists were announced for Ramblin’ Royalty: Jacob Lewis, Emmett Halloran, Sean Alexander, Ainsley Ronco, Doug Dillman, Sofia Vainikos, Hrydesh Patel and Elizabeth Wright.

Throughout the week of Homecoming, there were several competitive events students could take part in. These events ranged from aquatic tug-of-war to Mario Kart, meaning everyone was able to find something they liked. Like all years, spectators are welcome at Homecoming events, so everyone can attend regardless of being on a team or not. 

Let’s take a look at the history and workings of the core events driving Homecoming week.

Mini 500

One of Tech’s most notable Homecoming traditions, the Mini 500, is an annual tricycle race dating back to 1969. The event pays homage to a fraternity prank in which pledges had to ride around campus on tricycles, and requires teams of students to ride modified, child-sized tricycles built to support the weight of the rider as fast as they can around Peters Parking Deck on East campus. 

Some campus organizations spend weeks — and even months — preparing their bikes before the race. Tech students have the ability to show off their engineering skills to ensure their bike does not fail them during the race.

A team consists of seven members: four racers and three pit crew members. Teams are required to rotate their front tire three times throughout the race, all while trying to complete eight laps without losing their ride.

The race gets quite competitive, as teams rush to finish in a battle against their peers. 

The event has claimed the title for most unique Homecoming tradition at Tech due to developing the need for engineering skills and team camaraderie to win. This year’s Mini 500 will take place on Oct. 7 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Peters Parking Deck.

Freshman Cake Race

The Freshman Cake Race is a half-mile race that takes place before sunrise, which is usually around 6:00 a.m., on the morning of the Homecoming football game. As the name might suggest, this event is open only to first-year students. 

The Freshman Cake Race has been held since 1911, when it was initially an open cross-country race used to scout out potential members for the team. It only received its iconic name in 1913 when the wives of faculty members, mothers of students and Tech sweethearts would bake cakes to give to the winners of the race. 

The Cake Race was incorporated into Tech Homecoming festivities and became mandatory for freshmen starting in 1935. The race eventually became co-ed, and has been a staple for all freshmen ever since. 

In contrast to its cross-country origins, participants can run, jog or walk in what is sure to be a memorable experience for freshmen students. Freshmen are encouraged to run and receive a cupcake at the end of the race. The overall winners of the race still receive cakes once they cross the finish line, and get the chance to meet the winners of the Ramblin’ Royalty at the Homecoming game.

Students only have one shot in participating in this event during their academic career at Tech, so many make the most out of it by showcasing their competitive sides. The most ambitious runners will do what they can to win, all for the sweet taste of victory. 

This year’s Cake Race will take place on Oct. 8 from 6:30 to 8:00 a.m. at the corner of Fowler St. and 8th St. SW.

Ramblin’ Wreck Parade

Prior to the football game and the last event of Homecoming, the Ramblin’ Wreck Parade is a parade in which students show off their rides while following the Ramblin’ Reck. 

This event originates from a race from Atlanta to Athens in 1929, when it was known as the “Old Ford Race.” In 1932, the event was deemed unsafe and was modified to become a parade, much like the event held today have today. 

Originally, two classifications of vehicles were allowed: classic cars and fixed bodies. A third category was added later, known as contraptions. 

Today, these contraptions are built only by students, showcasing Tech’s mechanical prowess. Students can create floats and contraptions which are paraded down the street, along with classic cars, dance teams and other groups participating. 

This year, the parade will be held on Oct. 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. along Fowler Street.

Homecoming Festival & Concert

Each year, the Student Center Programs Council, or SCPC, seeks to connect the Tech community through an annual Homecoming Committee. Composed of student leaders, the committee strives to help coordinate various activities Tech students partake in all week long. 

The Homecoming Carnival hosted by SCPC arrived on Tech Green Oct. 4, where there were fun activities such as inflatables, trivia, post card decorations, bear and bandana decorating, and paper airplane contests. There was also be an opportunity to collect stamps on the passport to win a voucher for Tech Rec bowling.   

Another event SCPC will be putting on is the famous Fall Concert which will be held Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. on Tech Green. The Fall Concert is always a popular event where student openers will perform and then Tech hosts a nationally-recognized artist who will perform as the main event. 

SCPC has been in charge of choosing the Homecoming theme each year, this year it is “Buzzin around the world.” 

Homecoming week is a spirited week-long celebration of the Institute’s beginnings and how memorable events have become traditions that students can recreate and do each year, and we at the Technique hope that students will get as involved as they can!