Homecoming weekend celebrations have existed in various forms on campus since the inaugural Alumni Game of 1897, which saw former football players face off against the current varsity squad. Yet one practice that happened from the 1950s to the 1990s no longer exists: a parade of floats through the streets of Ann Arbor. The local community, students, and alumni all took part in the festive event. To honor this weekend’s homecoming, here are some of our favorite parade photos from the past.
Be sure to take part in our Alumni Territory Homecoming Tailgate this weekend on Oct. 6. We’ll have food, games, special guests, and the Michigan Marching Band. Tickets are still available.
(Click images to for full views)
Astronaut James McDivitt, ’59, HSCD’65, signs an autograph for his smallest fan at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market before riding in the 1965 homecoming parade. McDivitt became the commander of the Apollo 9 mission four years later and then program manager for Apollo 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16. Photo courtesy of the Ann Arbor District Library
This float from the Lambda Chi Alpha-Kappa Gamma fraternity in 1968 demonstrates that it was a time of protest and social unrest. Photo courtesy of the U-M Bentley Historical Library
A “People’s Parade” of local performers and eccentric personalities took part in the 1969 homecoming parade. Riding in the car, swathed in her tissue paper costume, is Pat the Hippy Strippy, who declared herself queen of the proceedings. Photo courtesy of the Ann Arbor District Library
“Put the World Back in Shape” was the message on this 1971 ecology-minded float. It was reportedly one of just a few in that year’s unprecedentedly short parade, signaling that the parade’s popularity was starting to wane. Photo courtesy of the Ann Arbor District Library
The last homecoming parade took place in 2007, after an 11-year hiatus, in an effort to boost school spirit. The Churchill High School Band, from Livonia, Michigan, led nine floats in the celebration. Photo by Kellyn Jackson/Michigan Daily
Gregory Lucas-Myers, ’10, is assistant editor of Michigan Alumnus.