Homecoming traditions have evolved over the years in the Crossroads. Judging from photos inside a stack of St. Joseph High School annuals from the 1950s, homecoming queens and members of her court typically wore somewhat modest fresh flower corsages pinned to their dresses. On the field with their escorts at homecoming games, they cradled long-stem bouquets in their arms.
Fast-forward to the 1980s. Images of homecoming courts in a stack of annuals from the same local high school show the fresh flowers had changed to white silk versions, and they were topped with blue pipe cleaner shaped into the letters “STJ.” Multiple strands of acetate ribbon, though sparse by today’s standards, hung about knee-length with bells and a few football-themed baubles. Each was unique but generally expressed school spirit more than anything else.
Over the past 30 or so years, homecoming mums have become larger, more elaborate and highly personalized.
Modern-day mums are vehicles for self-expression as well as school pride. They run the gamut in their expression of the students’ interests – from involvement in school sports and clubs to passions and activities outside of school. Patterned, textured and luxurious ribbons complement standard acetate versions of old, and they are not only straight but also curled, braided and profuse. The trinket options are many and varied. And additions such as lights and sound are available. Most of the mums are one-of-a-kind, and some feature custom cutouts that make them truly novel.
The homecoming mum craze in Texas is foreign to most out-of-state folks. And the immense size and extravagance to which some Texans are accustomed are foreign to Texans in other parts of the state.
“They are so big and ornate that they cannot see the person,” said Kathy Walker, owner of Sweet Occasions. “Why wear a fancy dress if it covers it up? Personally, I like the size Victoria does; it’s just what we’ve gotten used to.”
Nonetheless, the tradition, in its various incarnations, is almost entirely a Texas one (it might have caught on in parts of a border state or two).
“We encourage customers to start plain and build up to boas and lights, in either silver or gold and white, depending on the school, generally when they are seniors,” Walker said.
The Victoria Advocate encourages students to have fun with the Texas tradition. Especially for freshmen, homecoming is a time to get acquainted with school traditions, classmates, upperclassmen and alumni. It’s that time of year when the weather starts to cool down, football heats up and students, families, alumni and faculty gather and celebrate the rich history of their school.