As Creston celebrates homecoming week, I can’t help but think back to my own homecoming festivities back in Darlington, Wisconsin.
I’m a very competitive person, so my junior year, when they introduced the idea of each grade having the chance to compete to win a trophy - the spirit stick, I was bound and determined to beat the seniors.
Each grade was assigned a color - freshman are green (we call them greenies since they’re new to the school), sophomores are orange, juniors are yellow and seniors are purple. It was the same every year. I’m not sure if they still do that. I was obsessed with purple, so I couldn’t wait to be a senior.
Homecoming week started with each grade making a poster to display how badly the Redbirds (that was our mascot) were going to beat whoever we were playing that year for homecoming.
My junior year we were playing the Cuba City Cubans. Our poster said, “How do you like your cubans? Over easy.” It depicted a redbird chef frying an egg (it was actually a cuban). Teachers “anonymously” judged the posters and we got second to the seniors. I still think they rigged it. Their poster was nowhere near as good as ours.
Just like in Creston, we spent time float building all week, but the points from that wouldn’t come until later. We also got points for each one of us that dressed up each day according to the theme. I remember we wanted to have a redneck day, but the teachers made us change it to country day. It was probably for the best.
Our four fall sports were cross country, golf, volleyball and football, so they used these as inspiration to create additional competitions. The catch was you couldn’t participate in the competition if you were in that sport. You also needed one person on each team that didn’t play any fall sports.
The first competition was a volleyball match. Patrick, now my husband, played in that since he ran cross country with me. I don’t actually remember if we won or not. Next was kicking a field goal. Just getting the ball off the ground was a challenge. The last competition was a relay on the track where the runner carried a golf bag instead of a baton. That was hilarious and we definitely won that one.
Like I said, I’m super competitive, but I also know my limits. I could only participate in volleyball or the field goal competitions and I would have been awful at either. I don’t run toward objects flying toward me, I run away. As for the field goal, I couldn’t even kick the ball in kickball. There was no way that was happening.
I went all out on the float decorating. Our junior and senior floats were amazing if I do say so myself.
Junior year, we made a 6-foot tall can of whipped cream. “We’re Reddi to Wip the cubans,” it said. “Made with 100% real cubans.” It was so clean and simple. I designed the back of the float which says our class year and all our names.
But by the time we got to parade day, some of the seniors were not happy we were beating them in the spirit stick contest. The conspiracy theory is that a senior went and unscrewed the back of our float. It fell off before it made it from the high school to the parade route. I’m still not over that one.
While winning the spirit stick as juniors was an incredible feat, nothing compared to my senior year. First of all, we got to wear purple on class color day. I waited four years for that.
I got to represent the girls’ cross country team in the parade as someone from each sport walked with a sign. The boys’ cross country representative and I took turn carrying the torch down the parade route.
At the end of the route, we lit the bonfire and held a pep rally. I wrote the cross country skit as a parody off of part of The Hangover. I didn’t perform it, but the two who did, did a great job. They had everyone laughing.
Then, the 59 seniors in my class held hands around the bonfire and ran around it, changing direction, laughing and falling down. It sounds so lame to just describe it, but in the moment, it felt like a camaraderie that had been building for 12 years as we grew up together.
While I didn’t stay close with everyone I graduated with, I married one of them. I just went to the wedding of one last weekend and I was in the wedding of another. I was just asked to be the godmother of one’s baby girl. Four were in my wedding.
I’m definitely happy to not be in high school anymore, but the memories are cherished deeply.