Homecoming has long tradition of Tiger events

One of the most memorable homecomings of the past six decades was the one that almost didn’t happen. The year was 1958, and the problem was Asian flu. “There was so much flu at Cedar Falls High School that they didn’t hold the dance for three weeks,” Terry Ley, CFHS alumnus of 1957, said. 

The next decade, another unfortunate disaster nearly disrupted the entire homecoming game. The whole football team was riding on a flatbed truck in the homecoming parade of 1968. As the flatbed turned the corner of Walnut and 12th Street, the wooden fencing on the side of the flatbed snapped. 

1968 alumnus Mark Baldwin played defensive tackle on the team that year and was on the flatbed.  “We went around the corner and the fence broke and a whole bunch of the football players tumbled about five or six feet to the pavement” Baldwin said. “I don’t know if we lost any players for the game or had some injuries, but that was a big deal to have our parade pretty much put our team out of commission,” he said. “I didn’t get injured getting off the truck, but the rest of the team was.”

Despite any injuries, Cedar Falls beat Mason City in the big game. 

Even with a few disasters, past homecomings in Cedar Falls have been filled with traditions, some that don’t exist anymore.  

“Back then all the girls bought big mums [chrysanthemum flowers] and wore those in the school. Everyone was involved, and we had a parade in downtown Cedar Falls. Thursday night before the game we would do a snake dance down to the bonfire. We would hold hands, and we would do cheers and dance around the bonfire,” activities director secretary Jane Carter, who is also a class of 1973 graduate, said.

Posters and streamers back then coated every hallway, like today. Some posters were more memorable than others according 1968 graduate Skip Moe. 

“I remember posters in the hallway, one in particular that was really funny. It was a picture of a single thumbtack, and all it said was ‘Attack,’” Moe said. 

After all of the work in and out of the school, a king and queen voted by peers was announced in the heat of the “big game” for homecoming during halftime, also like today.

“It was a big deal to be the homecoming queen. The queen from my year was marvelous. She was just the greatest individual and was a great selection. She wasn’t in a clique. She was just kind and friendly,” Baldwin said. 

After the homecoming game, the dance commenced in the gym. “After every home football game, we would all rush home and then change for the homecoming dance,” Ley said.

In the 1960s, female students did not splurge for the glamorous looks that presently appear in homecoming pictures. “We didn’t dress up like people do now,” Jenean Ellis, alumna of 1963 said. “We all wore our best skirts.” 

Music selections ranged from local bands like The Les Hale Quartet in 1959, the Vacant Lot in 1967 and the Fourth Estate in 1972. Disc jockeys played music over the decades, too, including Buddy Holly, Johnny Mathis and Chubby Checker in the 1950s and ’60s and Led Zeppelin’s classic song “Stairway to Heaven” in 1972. 

A night of celebration and victory filled Cedar Falls High School with good feelings. For Terry Ley in 1957, it ended at an ice cream shop in downtown Cedar Falls. 

“One place I remember was Baker’s Ice Cream. It was downtown on Fourth and Washington Street. We gathered there in the parking lot. It was probably a place that would sit 50 people, but there was still a lot of standing around,” Ley said.

Fans senior Randy Sharpstein and junior Mike Lovell cheer on the Tiger football team in 1967 against Charles City for the homecoming game.

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