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Homecoming Traditions

Duck Launch

Launching of The Ducks

The Launching of the Ducks, similar to the wishing well, is where Tarleton students write their wishes and/or goals on their very own rubber duck. The ducks are then launched into the reflection pools of the Nursing Building. There the ducks sit until Saturday’s football game kickoff. This tradition began in 2013.

Texan Rider in front of the Bonfire.

L.V. Risinger Memorial Bonfire

A tradition started during the 1920's, the burning of the bonfire takes place on Friday evening of Homecoming week. The Plowboys organization is responsible for building and guarding the bonfire. The Homecoming Court is recognized during the festivities. The bonfire has been dedicated to L.V. Risinger, acclaimed defender of the bonfire during the air raid of 1939. Mr. Risinger died in 1994.

Tarleton Students gather in front of Bonfire stack to beat of the drum.

Beat The Drum

The 1920's marked the beginning of a tradition that is a favorite among Tarleton students—the beating of the drum. At the height of the rivalry between JTAC and NTAC, the burning of the opponent's bonfire prior to the scheduled celebration was a popular undertaking. A drum was beaten 24 hours a day until kick off of the football game to discourage NTAC students from invading campus. Today, organizations and residence hall students carry on this tradition during Homecoming Week by beating the drum on Tuesday evening and continuing until kickoff on Saturday.

Tarleton's smoke stack lit up purple.

Lighting of the Smokestack

For the past several years, seeing the Tarleton Smokestack lit in purple has symbolized the beginning of Homecoming Week. In 2014, the Lighting of the Smokestack became an official Homecoming event. The university president, Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio, leads the lighting ceremony to kick off a week full of history and tradition. Once the Smokestack is shining in purple glory, a concert immediately follows in Heritage Park.

Students hold hands in-line for the snake dance.

Snake Dance

In the early years, students assembled on the lawn of the Trogdon House, locked arms and snaked their way to the bonfire site. The dance was led by the cheerleaders who carried torches to light the way. The activity kicked off the lighting of the bonfire festivities. With the relocation of the bonfire to the College Farm, students now snake dance from the yell contest at Wisdom Gym in the Kinesiology Building to the start of drum beating at the Thompson Student Center.

Tarleton Marching Band in Homecoming Parade.

Homecoming Parade

Tarleton's Homecoming parade includes floats, marching bands, mounted horseback riders and vintage vehicles. More information can be found here as the event approaches. The parade will be held Homecoming weekend.

Block-T formation at Yell Contest 2015.

Yell Contest

During the 1980's, the Student Government Association added the Yell Contest to Homecoming Week, and it quickly established itself as a traditional component of the celebration. Student organizations perform step and dance moves to original chants and lyrics, and a panel of judges selects the top three teams. The winning team has the honor of beating the drum immediately following the Plowboys.

Student volunteers at Midnight Breakfast, posing for a group photo.

Midnight Breakfast

On Thursday night during Homecoming Week, students stay up for the annual Midnight Breakfast celebration. The breakfast is sponsored, cooked and served by the Student Government Association’s Executive Cabinet and Freshmen Representative Council. Midnight Breakfast, a tradition that started in 1983, is best known for the Purple Pancakes.

Winners, KDR, posing with their organization banner, Dr. Dottavio and the Silver Bugle in front of the Trogdon House.

Silver Bugle Hunt

From 1941 to 1958, a rivalry raged between Tarleton and North Texas Agricultural College which was highlighted by the presentation of the silver bugle to the winner of the annual football game. NTAC won the final game, and the hated “Grubs” (NTAC) have since lost the silver bugle. To commemorate this event, a university wide scavenger hunt is held on campus each year during Homecoming Week.

SWAT members serving lunch at the Purple Out Picnic.

Purple Out Picnic

Since  2003, the Purple Out Picnic has been event that encourages our students to gather together to show their pride. Purple Out features a free cookout, music and performances by various spirit organizations. Students are challenged to wear their most spirited and purple attire. The Homecoming Court is introduced, and nominees participate in a Q & A session.

Tailgate attendees in Tarleton aprons.

TAA Tailgate & All-Class Reunion

The Tarleton Alumni Association welcomes alumni back to campus each year during homecoming for an All Class Reunion Reception, Registration and Family Friendly Hospitality at the Alumni House, and hosts of the Official Tarleton Alumni Association Tailgate.

Participant golfing at last years tournament.

J. Dixon White Homecoming Golf Classic

In honor of the Tarleton Athletic Hall of Fame member, the J. Dixon White Homecoming Golf Classic is held each Homecoming. White was among the 25 charter members of the Tarleton Athletic Hall of Fame when it was created in 1980. The first alumni tournament was held in the early 80's.

Tarleton homecoming 5k, 2015.

Homecoming 5k

The first 5k (3.1 mile) race was held in 2008 and had just over 100 participants with numbers steadily increasing each year. It was an opportunity to get more alumni and community involved in Tarleton's annual Homecoming traditions. The course is flat and fast and held entirely on campus with makes the race even more appealing for the beautiful campus scenery.

Former Homecoming Queen and King after crowning.

Homecoming Court

Homecoming King and Queen elections are held each year. The King is announced at the L.V. Risinger Bonfire on Friday, and the Queen is announced during the football game on Saturday. Election criteria will be announced as the week approaches. Voting takes place online!