Well folks, it’s homecoming this week at Aitkin High School and activities will culminate with a football matchup this Friday night at Veterans Field against the Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels at 7 p.m.
Homecoming has always been a special week for this small town and just thinking about it harkens me back to the 60s when it was even bigger than it is now.
I remember, as many of you do, painting the windows of the businesses on Main Street and the competition between the classes to see who could come up with the best job. The coronation took place in the afternoon on Friday and that led to the huge bonfire located on the ballfield where the high school gym sits now. It was wonderful and the whole town showed up, and then it was a parade to the athletic field where the football game got underway.
The big day ended with a dance in the gym to a band like Jonah and the Whalers or one of the other area bands that were in the area. Homecoming was one of the top events of the fall season in Aitkin and it continues to be in 2020.
I wonder what it was like 50 years ago in the fall of 1970. Let’s see if my memory bank is open today ... oh yes, here we go. It was Oct. 2, 1970 and homecoming started with the coronation of king and queen. In 1970 the candidates were Teresa Field, June Madsen, Sally Lake, Betty Weimer and Joy Rikala for the girls and the boys choices were Bill Lundberg, Joe Hazelwood, Kim Johnson, Dave Schoepf and Denny Siemers. When the program ended it was Sally Lake and Kim Johnson who would reign over the festivities. The parade was held after the coronation with prizes awarded to the class that had the best float and the band marched as well. Because the weather was so dry in 1970 they held a “snake dance” instead of the bonfire and despite a great effort by the Gobblers, they fell to Wadena 6-0 in the homecoming game. The annual dance followed and that brought homecoming 1970 to an end.
You know, this is kind of fun, let’s see if the time machine can take us back one more time. This particular year, 1980, the celebration lasted only three days due to the MEA holiday. The coronation was on Monday and the choices were really tough. The ladies were represented by Darla Klingelhofer, Jane Burnquist, Colleen Cummings, Jodie Billings and DeeMaris McCarty.
The guys on the court were Ted Franz, Scott Ackerman, Brian Baker, Jerry Dagen and Scott Nutting. The king and queen selected were Jane and Brian. The parade was held on a beautiful Wednesday followed by a great game between the Gobblers and the C-I Rangers, a contest won by the Gobblers by a 13-7 score. Halftime saw the marching band perform and the burning of the “A” and introduction of the royalty. The evening ended with the dance at the gym.
This week the high school students can enjoy some of the same fun events that they did 40-50 years ago and memories that will last a lifetime. Be sure to enjoy it, homecoming comes just once a year and for the seniors it will be the last one.