By Pat Edwards
Campus Life Staff
The annual Homecoming celebration at Tech is resplendent with history and traditions that are relished by the institute's community as a whole, alumni and students alike.
The Homecoming festivities begin on Friday afternoon at 2:30, when the mini-500 derby is run. The race is a multi-lapped tricycle race around Peter's parking deck.
Teams of competitors race the tricycles in a relay race that dates back to the first half of the century. It was inspired by a common fraternity prank that called upon the chapter's pledges to transport themselves to their classes on the child's conveyance.
The oldest of Tech's Homecoming traditions involves the freshman class, exclusively. The Freshman Cake Race, that is held on Homecoming morning, began as a cross country race in 1911.
The race receives it's name from the practice started in 1913 of awarding the winners of the race with a cake that was baked by the wives of faculty and administrators, as well as the mothers and sweethearts of the participants.
The early races, which ran on courses of two to four miles in length, were voluntarily run by members of all classes at Tech, and drew large fields of runners.
The numbers are evident in the numbers of cakes awarded in those early years. They include several over a hundred, and a record, in 1929, of 160 cakes awarded.
The Cake race was incorporated into the Homecoming celebration in 1935, and made a compulsory event for freshman who were not physically disqualified.
The inclusion of a Homecoming queen in 1954 and later a Homecoming king, augmented the awards to the winners of the race by giving them, in addition to a cake, a kiss from the Homecoming monarch of the opposite sex.
This award, however, fell out of practice in the 1970s, as did the obligatory participation of the first quarter freshman. Amusingly, there exists a picture in the Georgia Tech Archives of a young Sam Nunn receiving a kiss from the Homecoming queen for wining the race his freshman year.
The Ramblin' Reck Parade, the proudest of the Homecoming traditions, is also run on Saturday morning, around nine.
Sponsored by the Ramblin' Reck Club, the parade is traditionally led by Tech's own Ramblin' Reck, and run from the Alexander Memorial Coliseum, down Fowler to Fifth Street, and then up the hill to Techwood.
This year, due to construction at the coliseum, the Reck will lead the race starting at O'Keefe, and along Techwood down the Fifth Street hill.
The parade is born from the old `Flying Flivver' races of May 1929 and 1930, a road race that was run from Atlanta to Athens founded by The Technique..
The race became a parade when the administration, led by the auto enthusiast and Flivver participant Dean Floyd Field, felt that a parade might be less hazardous then an illegal road race.
The first parade in 1932 was led by Dean Field in his beloved 1916 Ford, a vehicle felt by many to be the first Ramblin Reck of the institute. The first parade winner was the entry from Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.
The Ramblin Reck Parade contains entries in three categories: the contraption, the fixed-body, and the classic car. In the contraption category, the reck is propelled by an indirect drive train, that is a drive train where the transmission does not directly propel the vehicle's driving wheels.
The fixed body relies on a direct drive train, as does the classic car category, whose entries are unaltered vehicles at least 20 years old.
It is interesting to note that as the Ramblin Reck Parade developed over the years, the inclination to convert the parade to the more usual `float' parades that all other colleges and universities have, has been adamantly opposed by the student body.
The distinctive character of the Ramblin' Reck Parade that has been preserved by the Institute, acts as a tribute to the ingenuity and nickname that has made Georgia Tech famous the world over.
Some of the campus buildings are decorated for Homecoming as well. Fraternities, sororities and other organizations create displays in keeping with a theme that is selected by a vote of the student body that is sponsored by the student center.
The theme, as in this years "The Greatest Homecoming on Earth", is reflected in displays that can contain some rather ingenious moving parts, some controlled by computer, and are created from wood, chicken wire, colored paper, etc.
The traditions that surround the Homecoming weekend are some of the oldest and dearest of the institute's.
Homecoming events for the week consisted of past Tech favorites. "Puttin' on the Ritz" was a nice evening of 1950s Dancing, and there was the annual Volleyball tournament and Ice Cream Social on the President's lawn. The Stand and Dress Up Relay occurred to the delight of the crowd. Mock Rock was a huge success with Steve Barnes and Leslie Fram of 99X radio being the master of ceremonies. The Pumpkin Carving Contest, Bean Bag Toss, Obstacle Course, and the Scavenger Hunt occurred with the enthusiasm of the spectators.
Some of the classic Homecoming events involved traditions of good ol' Ma Tech.It is appropriate that they should be celebrated at a time dedicated to the return of the alumni to Tech, so that their keeping can be enjoyed by both Tech students and alumni together, helping to bind together the old with the new.
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