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Homecoming celebrates tradition

Maroon and gold are everywhere on Concordia’s campus, from the lampposts to the Knutson Campus Center, oncurrent Cobbers and alumni. Even the trees have shifted their color to the vibrant reds and golds of autumn. This can only mean one thing: Homecoming Week.

Every year, campus population surges in size with returning alumni from all generations, and the air comes alive with an energy that can only be described as Cobber spirit. For many, the excitement of Homecoming lies in the traditions.

Homecoming is a time for friends, family, alumni, and the community to come together and strengthen connections. Freshmen have the opportunity to showcase their talents at Frosh Frolics, while those who need to burn off some Homecoming energy can participate in the Cobber 5K Fun Run or the Kids’ Niblet 1 Mile Run. Class and organization reunions take place all weekend, and this year, the dedication of the new Integrated Science Center will take place on Sunday, Oct. 1. With annual events such as the parade, bonfire, football game, and Johnny Holm dance, there are plenty of opportunities to simply celebrate being a Cobber.

For the class of 2018, this Homecoming is their last as students, causing them to anticipate their favorite events more than ever before. For senior Casey Currie, this will be her second and last Homecoming, as she completed two years’ worth of credits by doing PSEO classes in high school.

“My favorite Homecoming tradition is the bonfire,” she said. “The amount of energy before, during, and after is amazing. It gets everyone pumped and ready for the game, and [the energy] lasts all weekend.”

According to the Concordia College Archives, the bonfire began in 1921. At that time, freshmen participated in “the gathering of the leaves,” collecting kindling and cleaning up campus in anticipation for returning Cobbers. The fuel was then guarded overnight by male students in two-hour shifts to prevent raids from neighboring schools. The Moorhead Fire Department banned the bonfire due to safety reasons in 1937, but it reappeared in 1946 and continues today.

There are some traditions that have not stood through the test of time and others that have changed dramatically over the years. College archivist Lisa Sjoberg thinks one particular event should be revived.

“Definitely the ornate floats that used to be in the Homecoming parade. I love looking at the photos of the parade and imaging what it must have been like to watch the floats pass by,” she said.

The parade, though held every year, looks much different now than it did in years past. In the past, campus student organizations, particularly sororities and fraternities, decorated elaborate floats, dedicating time and effort to the design. At the end of the parade, the Homecoming queen and her court would award a prize to the best one.

An alum herself, Sjoberg’s favorite part of Homecoming is the energy on campus, as well as celebrating what Concordia means to generations of Cobbers. Tradition remains at the center of it all, even if some traditions are no longer practiced.

Homecoming Committee Chair and recently crowned Homecoming Queen Corinne Burrell offered her perspective on traditions long gone and the importance of preserving those memories.

“I think it’s really important that we respect and honor those traditions,” she said. “Even if they don’t go all the way back to 1891, every step of the way was still formative. It’s important that we respect them as a way to celebrate what we’ve gone through together and how far we’ve come.”

The value that Concordia places on its rich history and community involvement only adds to the excitement surrounding Homecoming.

“This is a rare Homecoming to have. It reflects the values that Concordia has and our mission. We value our alumni, we value our Cobbers, past, present, and future,” said Burrell.

Concordia is the Latin word for “with one heart,” and that definition holds true at Homecoming, when generations of Cobbers return to campus and celebrate each other, the community, and what home truly means.


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