Central's pre-World War II Homecomings were composed of events built
upon ties to school friends and emotions felt by the alumni about their
years at Central. Homecoming continued and grew because it created a way
for old college friends to come together, allowed students to show
their support for the school while meeting with alumni, and gave the
faculty and administration the opportunity to put the school's best face
Then as now, the parade, the band, and the game were key
elements in the celebration. However, in the early years Homecoming was
much smaller than it is today. At its peak, only about 3,000 students
and alumni attended. In 1925 the first floats appeared in the Homecoming
parade, and prizes were awarded for the best float. But the parade had
no unifying theme. Early floats were often merely a decorated car or a
small trailer that had been dressed up for the event. Perhaps because
the number of people on hand was small, the parade was broadly
inclusive. On occasion the entire student body would march in it.
Houses, particularly those in which students lived, and later the
dormitories, were also decorated for the event.
All-school dances played an important part in the early
years of the celebration. Frequently dances were held on both Friday and
Saturday evenings. Student rushes on the Broadway, and later the Ward,
Theaters also occurred regularly.
Particular groups took on specific duties. For example, freshmen would
scour the city for days to gather together the "flammables" to be lit as
the climax of Friday night's pep rally.
Some innovations of the prewar years have become honored
traditions. Of particular note is the CMU Fight Song, which was composed
by student Howard "Howdy" Loomis and played for the first time at the
1934 Homecoming. Other innovations had less of an impact. In 1929 the
workers in the college's plant department constructed a huge electrical
sign that flashed "Central" and hoisted it to the top of the
Administration Building (today Warriner Hall) tower. The sign, however,
soon disappeared. The decision in 1930 to have President Warriner make
the game's opening kick (a twenty-yard kickoff, described as "beautiful"
in the yearbook) was never repeated.
With the coming of the Second World War limitations on
rail travel and the rationing of critical supplies such as gasoline made
it difficult or impossible for alumni to return to campus.
Consequently, Homecoming was not held between 1943 and 1945.