Through the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, OSU is the only university with a statewide presence in all 77 Oklahoma counties.
What began as a small town harvest carnival at the beginning of the twentieth century has evolved into what is now “America’s Greatest Homecoming Celebration”. Along the way, with the support of the OSU Alumni Association and the efforts of the student body, OSU’s Homecoming has grown into a week-long spectacular that draws tens of thousands of alumni, family and friends back home to Stillwater each fall.
The very first Homecoming was held as part of the Harvest Carnival in the fall of 1913, but it wasn’t until seven years later that the OSU Alumni Association hosted its first official Homecoming celebration. On October 30, 1920, 90 Oklahoma A&M alums returned to Stillwater for festivities including the Cowboy’s loss at the hands of Texas A&M, a dance and a dinner hosted by Alumni Association President Monroe Otey.
Of the 90 alumni in attendance, 50 were from the Stillwater area and 40 were from elsewhere. It was also in the ‘20s the now-famous tradition of house decorations began when sororities started to decorate their doorways.
In 1930, the first-ever Homecoming Parade, a mile long, made its way down Main Street. By 1930 more than 17,000 alumni returned to Oklahoma A&M to renew old friendships and show their pride in the Orange and Black.
In 1942 and 1944, Homecoming was combined with Dads and Mothers’ days and sponsored by the YMCA, YWCA, Dad’s and Mother’s Day Association and the Alumni Association. The joint effort was a result of World War II and impending gas rationing. Even with the gas rationing and cutbacks on parade floats, decorations and visiting bands, the football game and reunion functions were still well attended.
Following the war in 1946, there was a record attendance of 20,000alumni and the largest parade was held including more than 50 floats, six bands and other community entries. Since that time, the event has grown and today is recognized as “America’s Greatest Homecoming Celebration”, drawing more than 70,000 alumni back to campus each year.
CASE International (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) has recognized OSU’s Homecoming as a Seal of Excellence recipient. This is the highest award given by CASE in the field of Alumni Relations. This prestigious award is given only to programs that serve as models for others. OSU was cited for the widespread participation and outstanding organization of its Homecoming program.
Most recently, the Homecoming celebration has launched onto the world wide web. While Homecoming events and activities have been posted online in the past, the online Homecoming experience has grown to include photo albums, video highlights and live streams of Walkaround and the Sea of Orange Parade.
OSU’s Homecoming is presented by the OSU Alumni Association and is planned by the student driven Homecoming steering committee. OSU’s Homecoming is a longstanding, exciting and colorful tradition for both campus and community.
For more information, visit orangeconnection.org/homecoming.