By: Brenton Wells, Bicentennial Graduate Assistant, Doctoral Student, History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, Bloomington
Indiana University’s homecoming parade is a longstanding campus tradition. It is difficult to say precisely when the tradition began, as it is not consistently mentioned in early yearbooks or other university publications.
The earliest mention appears in a 1908 Arbutus; the University’s “Gala Week” from June 11 to June 24, 1908, included a “campus promenade.” In subsequent years “Gala Week” would be folded into IU’s first Homecomings.
The earliest clearly documented IU Homecoming Parade reference is a photograph of a float from IU’s 1923 homecoming. The 1923 Arbutus also contains a photograph of the Purdue marching band making its way through the Kirkwood campus entrance (now Sample Gates) flanked by a crowd, which was likely part of the parade route.
Early parades included university and city officials, coaches and prominent members of the Athletic staff, local celebrities, and IU’s homecoming kings and queens, as well as marching bands, football players, cheerleaders, Shriners, and clowns.
The IU parade has been more reliably documented since the 1960s. The first lapse in the parade in almost fifty years occurred in 2012. That year, instead of a parade, Homecoming organizers decided to hold a free concert.
Nevertheless, the IU Homecoming parade appears to be a tradition that will endure.
 Arbutus 1909, “1908 Gala Week Programme”, 75.
 Homecoming Parade, October 21, 1994, Image: P0024425, Archives Photograph Collection, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington, Indiana.
 Arbutus 1958, 311.
 Homecoming float, November 15, 1959, Image: P0050314, Archives Photograph Collection, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington, Indiana.
 Arbutus 1960, 37.
 “Community Reacts to Parade Cancellation”, Indiana Daily Student, October 7, 2012.