KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The University of Tennessee will host Homecoming 2019 this weekend. The school is celebrating its 225th year. Here are 6 Things to Know about UT homecoming:
Lighting the Way
The tradition of homecoming at UT began in 1916 and was held in conjunction with the Nov. 11, 1916, football game against Vanderbilt. Alumni from as early as 1872 attended and saw the Vols defeat the Commodores 10-6. UT President Brown Ayres declared the following Monday a holiday.
After World War I, homecoming became a yearly tradition in 1925 except for 1943, when students donated to the Red Cross and bought war bonds for WWII.
This year’s theme “Lighting the Way” pays homage to the university’s symbol, the Torchbearer.
He’s the queen
UT crowned its first homecoming queen, Betty Walker, in 1950. All was smooth sailing with the tradition until 20 years later when a Daily Beacon columnist got an idea.
In 1970 Vince Staten ran for homecoming queen. Staten was photographed for his campaign with a paper bag over his head and won with 2,500 votes. However his reign was short lived as the school newspaper columnist’s candidacy was deemed invalid.
The tradition of naming a queen was halted for 12 years before being reinstated from 1982-85 and again in 2002 until the present.
Pride of the Pride
The Pride of the Southland Marching Band is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and has been a staple of homecoming from the beginning. The first homecoming parade consisted of the university cadet corps in dress uniform, led by the band.
This year 745 Pride alumni are expected to join the current band members and perform during halftime. Members from 31 states, including Nevada and Alaska, and the District of Columbia will be traveling back to campus for the event, according to the band’s Facebook page.
Let’s have a parade
The Friday Homecoming Parade will step off at 4 p.m. at Circle Park and travel down Volunteer Boulevard before making a left on to Cumberland Avenue.
The public is invited to come out and watch and event participate. Little Vols can join in on the parade before attending the Little Vols in the Park event at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
The Southeastern StompFest will also be held at 7 p.m. Friday at the Student Union Auditorium. The event is hosted by Multicultural Student Life. Students and the public are invited to watch the stepping performances.
Tailgates and kick off
A number of tailgates will be hosted by campus programs on gameday.
Multicultural Student Life will host its tailgate at the Frieson Black Cultural Center beginning at noon.
The Center for Student Engagement will host its tailgate at the Student Union Plaza beginning at 4 p.m.
An alumni tailgate will be hosted by Alumni Affairs in the Student Union Ballroom also at 4 p.m.
Vols vs. Blazers
The Vols will face the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers on Saturday. The game is the 96th homecoming game for Tennessee and the the fifth time the Vols have faced the Blazers. Tennessee is 73-19-3 all time in homecoming games and 4-0 versus UAB.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU. Prior to the game a Tennessee Walking Horse making his way around the field. The homecoming tradition began in 1953.