Alumni share stories of past Hobo Day experiences

In the 102 years of Hobo Day celebrations, many traditions have come and gone. The Tug-of-War and Kangaroo Kourt have faded away but long-standing traditions such as Bum-A-Meal and the parade still remain. 

Each alum has memories and traditions they remember from their tenure at SDSU.

Todd Landsman, manager of marketing and sales at Country Pride Cooperative, went to both undergraduate and graduate school at SDSU while earning his master’s in agronomy. During his time on campus, Landsman was in the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, which has since folded.

“We used to be part of the Hobo Day parade and we had the TKE fire-truck that we rode through the parade,” Landsman said. “We used to park it right in the southeast corner of the end-zone … we were pretty close to the field.”

As head football coach at SDSU for 17 years, John Stiegelmeier has taken part in a tradition of Hobo Day several times, especially the football game. Stiegelmeier graduated in 1979 and he celebrates by not shaving for 30 days before Hobo Day.

“Other than that we celebrate the day with a victory on the football field,” Stiegelmeier said.  

Traditions are carried on throughout the years for many alumni and President David Chicoine is no different. According to Chicoine, he and his wife, Marcia, host an annual President’s Breakfast prior to the parade in the South Dakota Art Museum.

“(Our) favorite part of Hobo Day is Cavorts, the pre-parade breakfast, being in the parade and of course the football game,” Chicoine said of he and his wife.

Advice that Chicoine gives to students on Hobo Day is to take in as many events as you can during Hobo Week because the memories will last a lifetime.

Some Hobo Day memories are bittersweet. Landsman remembers his last Hobo Day from inside of an office, working toward his master’s degree.  

“My last year of grad school I was writing my thesis up in 212 Ag Hall as the Hobo Day Parade was lining up outside,” Landsman said. “That’s how I celebrated my last year on campus, writing my thesis for my master’s degree in agronomy… I even missed the game.”

According to Landsman, students and alumni should not ignore the importance of celebrating Hobo Day. As a college football referee, he does not get to come back to Brookings on Hobo Day.

“If you have the time, you need to go. If you haven’t been there in a few years, go. Go when you’re able to go,” Landsman said. “I’m looking forward to the day when I get to come back and enjoy it.”

According to Landsman and Chicoine, Hobo Day is an opportunity to return to Brookings to see old friends and it is a reason to celebrate.

“As an alumni, the importance [of Hobo Day] is going back to remember… to go back to celebrate your years on campus,” Landsman said. “So going back as an alumni is to go back and stay in touch with friends. To celebrate the heritage of being a Jackrabbit and Hobo Day.”

While traditions have changed over the years, Hobo Day brings many alumni and visitors to Brookings to celebrate being a Jackrabbit.  

“It’s the best homecoming in the nation,” Chicoine said. “Can’t get any better than that!”