Traditions on the Comeback

John Hult

John Hult

Homecomings are always about tradition. the pom pom, rah-rah facade of an older, supposedly simpler time is long gone, yet the ripples of that facade are apparent in the adapted homecoming celebrations of today.

The language changes. ‘Swell’ becomes ‘groovy’ becomes ‘bitchin’ becomes ‘cool.’ The romantic notions of collegiate life change, too. sanitized visions of milkshakes with candy-striped twin straws attached on one side to the star quarterback and on the other side to the head cheerleader become Fat Tire Ales raised in celebration by two rowdy revelers.

OK, so Hobo Day was probably never about milkshakes.

Things change, times change, people change, but there are a few constants throughout the Hobo homecoming’s 91 storied years: among them parades, football and parties. New friends and old friends coming together is a constant, as well.

‘There’s people I haven’t seen for a while that live out of state taht come back [for Hobo Days],” said Brad Tofflemeyer, a bartender at Skinner’s Pub in downtown Brookings.

This year’s Hobo Days theme aims to bring back a few of the commonalities that gave away over the years.

“Traditions” is the theme to guide students, alumni, and Brookings residents through the homecoming’s six days. The week’s events will culminate with Hobo Day itself on Sat., Nov. 1, when the Jackrabbit football team takes on St. Cloud State Huskies at 2 p.m. in Coughlin Alumni Stadium.

“We’re really trying to bring [old Hobo Day traditions] back this year,” said Mark Jobman, this year’s Grand Pooba.

One comeback tradition is Hobo Jeopardy, which was popular during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Hobo Fest includes the Jeopardy game to test the Hobo Day knowledge of bum competitors.

Another Hobo tradition is the Beards, Pigtails and Hairy Legs Contest, which boasts increased participation this year. Jobman himself hates his beard, but he likes the idea of Hobos giving up a month of shaving for school spirit and believes a Pooba ought to lead the way. The total number of Hairy Legs, Pigtails and Beards contestants is 40-at least double last year’s total.

“That was a real confidence booster for us to have so many people decide to grow their beards out,” Jobman said.

Also look for Hobo Mobiles, which Jobman describes as “Bum Winnebagos.” Lambda Chi and Delta Chi both plan to roll their Hobo Mobiles through the Parade this year.

The point is to celebrate activities that bring us together as students, faculty and alumni for a common cause. Even if that common cause is a party. Especially if the common cause is a party.