This week is homecoming at Northern Michigan University. To celebrate, we thought we would share some photos from past homecomings.
Northern held its first “homecoming” in 1924 when the school invited alumni to come to a Northern-Tech football game. However, homecoming did not become an annual tradition until 1935. Activities at this time included a king and queen competition, tug of war, pep meeting, parade, bonfire, football game, and dance.
Two of the quirkier homecoming traditions were the bonfire and the snake dance. In the snake dance, students joined hands and ran across campus. This usually ended in the bonfire location. Over time, the bonfire became a “mourning ceremony” in which the “coffin” of the opposing team was burnt.
Below are two pictures from the 1950s, one of the bonfire and another of a homecoming float against Michigan Tech.
At Northern, homecoming, despite occurring in September or October, can sometimes be a wintry event. For instance, this picture from the homecoming game of 1971 shows Jamrich greeting the homecoming court in a snowstorm.
Another tradition at Northern is the Dead River Games, held on the Sunday before Homecoming Week. The earliest photos we have which explicitly call the event the “Dead River Games” are from the 1990s. However, we do have photos from 1979 which depict a very similar event:
During the 1977 and 1978 homecomings, Northern landed in the Guiness Book of World Records twice. In 1977, Northern played the largest ever game of musical chairs on Memorial Field. This is what the early rounds of the game looked like: