In a Nutshell

NDSU homecoming history 

The first record game that became known as homecoming was in 1920,
although the actual first celebration was not until a year later. In 1920, the Bison played against the University of North Dakota at Dacotah Field. In 1921, the football team lost against South Dakota State University with a score of 0-54. In the 1927 game, more than 2,000 people failed to get seats which demonstrated how popular homecoming had become among students and alumni. In 1956, there was an evolution in homecoming games as it became popular to have homecoming floats to show rivalry between teams. Since the 1920s, homecoming has been a tradition celebrated at North Dakota State University every year.

How the “Bison” name came to be.

Today the Bison name has become synonymous with NDSU athletic teams, but Bison athletes were actually known by different names in the early twentieth century.  Back then, the athletes were known as the “Aggies”, “The Fighting Aggies” and the “The Farmers”. Their nicknames were mainly based on NDSU being founded as Agriculture College. It wasn’t until February 17, 1922, when the Lettermen’s Club voted to adopt the name Bison. It became official on March 1922. 

Origins of Thundar

In the 1960s, the popularity of mascots representing university athletic teams was on the rise. The first appearance of a Bison costumed mascot at NDSU was in 1964. After its first appearance in 1964, the Bison mascot was required to be at all games to represent the support and pride NDSU students had for their teams. The Bison mascot came to be known as Thundar officially in 1991. In the coming years, Thunder became a staple tradition at homecoming events as well as at all home football games. Thundar was given a new and improved form when North Dakota State University moved to Division 1 athletics in 2004.

Gold Star Marching Band

The Gold Star Marching band is considered the “pride of North Dakota”. In every football game, the audience can see the familiar green and gold uniforms cheering on the Bison football team. The Gold Star Marching Band received its name under Clarence Simeon Putnam’s leadership. In 1923-24 the band, as an ROTC unit, earned its third consecutive 100 percent inspecting rating. It received a rating of Gold Star which Putnam incorporated into the band’s name. Over the years, the band went through different leaders. Each leader had significantly impacted the course of the Gold Star Marching Band.  In 2007, the band received new uniforms, repainted drums as it was a year of a lot of changes.

In the coming years

By the 2000s, NDSU had deeply established its 124 years of tradition of homecoming as it evolved into homecoming week. Each day during the week, different activities and events are held leading up to the Homecoming Parade. The events include the Homecoming BBQ, which is free and open to everyone, as well as the creation of Serve with the Herd which is a community that serves project day where students can volunteer.  Every year there is Homecoming Parade on Broadway, a performance by the Blue Key Honor Society and a Homecoming Court. It has become an event where students can have fun with their friends and connect with other peers making Homecoming a vital part of the NDSU community.

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