This week is Spirit Week at T.C. Williams High School, leading up to Saturdays homecoming festivities a parade up Braddock Road; the football game that will pit the Titans against the Hayfield Hawks, and the homecoming dance, the first to be held in the new school. But just where did the homecoming tradition begin and why does it continue?
The National Collegiate Athletic Associations version of Trivial Pursuit and Jeopardy agree that homecoming was born at the University of Missouri in 1911 when an enterprising athletic director invited alums to come back and cheer the Tigers on against rival Kansas. Baylor University and the University of Illinois dispute that Missouri held the first homecoming, claiming that their own rite of autumn began one or two years earlier. Nonetheless, by the 1920s, most major colleges and universities were celebrating homecoming around a big football game.
Enter T. C. Williams. The school was opened in 1965 but the first group of seniors did not graduate until 1967. A search of old T.C. yearbooks indicated that the first homecoming celebration was not held until the fall of 1967 when senior Bill Euille, now the citys mayor, proudly escorted that years homecoming queen onto the football field at halftime to receive her crown. Over the years, the attire has changed, reflecting the times. In the 60s and 70s, the dresses ranged from elegant to funky with the boys were mostly in suits or tuxedoes. The 80s were well, the 80s and the 90s were undistinguished.
Homecoming hit a new low in the early part of this millennium when one homecoming queen and some of her court appeared in blue jeans. While the pomp and circumstance of the early years have never been recaptured, homecoming participants appear to have settled into a semi-formal look that satisfies adults and youth alike.
The floats are definitely in a down trend. Im not even sure whether the sophomores are going to have one this year, said homecoming sponsor extraordinaire Larry Trice. Although he has retired from teaching, he remains the sponsor of the T.C. Key Club and in charge of homecoming preparations.
But there will be a parade up Braddock Road, through the Bradlee Shopping Center and into the stadium at Episcopal High School, which is home to the Titans until their own stadium is finished. That parade will feature whatever floats appear, the Titan marching band and members of the homecoming court in fancy cars. It will also disrupt traffic for at least two hours and give unsuspecting motorists a not so charitable view of high school pageantry.
The class of 1967 will be back for homecoming, to reminisce about the good old days, to say good-bye to their version of T.C. Williams and to get a look at the brand new school.
The parade steps off at 1 p.m. and the game begins at 2 p.m.