Homecoming: How Traditions Have Evolved over the Years

A vast sea of floats, all distinguished and beautiful in their own ways, paraded through downtown of Los Altos. Lines and lines of people stood from the sidewalk, cheering as the floats and multiple cars, including a convertible holding the king and queen rolled down the streets. This was the homecoming parade during the 1980s. Every year, ever since Los Altos High School opened, homecoming has always been a celebrated tradition. However, many things about homecoming have changed as the years have gone by, one of the most significant changes being the amount of floats in the parades.

During the 1980s and the 1990s, the school had many more floats and vehicles participating in the parades. The students, especially those in the student council, spent weeks designing and building the floats. The parking lots were packed, brightly-colored floats and cars mingling in a potpourri of excitement. However, in the recent years there have been fewer floats.

“I saw a picture in an old yearbook and the parking lot was full of floats and cars. It was huge,” assistant principal Cristy Dawson said. “We now are down to each class doing a float, because it is a lot of time, energy, money for tissue paper. It is a lot.”

Floats are not the only profoundly-changed aspects of homecoming’s evolution over the years. The very meaning and the types of people involved in and attending homecoming events have changed. Many years ago, homecoming was directed toward people who had graduated and gone away to celebrate them coming back. Starting about ten years ago, however, it was not as simple as that.

Alumni of the school will still come back for the game, and the king and queen of the previous year will still ride in a car for the parade. Now, however, the organizers of homecoming, including the staff members and administration involved in the planning, gear the event to thoroughly involve all classes in the school. Before, only the top student council members, students returning back to school and staff were involved in setting up homecoming. Unlike past students, student body itself is now strongly involved in setting up the homecoming, elevating student involvement in the event to a new level.

Starting in the 1990s, different class councils would not just put together the parade and the game, but many other events for the week. These events, like activities for lunch, the brunch and assemblies, can change in multiple ways depending on the theme for the year.

“It depends of the theme,” senior class president John Lee said. “Each year we decide on a theme, and then based off that theme we have a list of activities that we do. So it really differs each year because we have a different theme tailored to homecoming.”

The homecoming dance, strongly based on the theme, is one of the largest dances and has been an essential tradition for many years.

“It’s the dance that, as in the name of homecoming, embodies the idea of the school spirit,” John said. “It is literally for people coming back to their school, coming back to their homes. That part really stands out to me because I believe a lot in school spirit, I believe a lot in ASB, and this is the event that marks the entrance for the rest of the year.”

Both student classes and individual clubs create hall decorations, composed of cardboard and paper cutouts, with each group assigned to decorate different area of the school. Floats are decorated according to the selected annual themes. Themes of the recent past such as Disney and Ancient Civilizations have let students create intricate designs on floats. Last year, the winning float, built by the junior class council, depicted Mickey Mouse on a steamboat.

In addition to changes in theme and involvement, the month and week of the year that homecoming has been held in has fluctuated greatly in the past few years. The date of the homecoming depends on when the football game is to be scheduled. This can change the amount of time needed to plan out and set up the homecoming events.

However, despite all of these changes, the tradition of homecoming will stay for years to come.

“Homecoming is something that is a schoolwide effort,” Dawson said.

This statement stays true, as homecoming currently involves many participants: staff members, teachers, parents and students. All of these people come together to create one of the most spirited and memorable events of the school year.