When it comes to homecoming, some traditions change while others remain

Aaron Krause • Oct 29, 2015 at 11:57 AM

Some traditions have been an integral part of a community for so long, few seem to know how and when they began.

Apparently that's the case with the "Snake Dance," a long-time Norwalk High School homecoming tradition.

One week night before the Truckers' homecoming football game, the students gather at Main Street School and make their way to Whitney Field for a pep rally and bonfire.

The Snake Dance and related festivities were held Oct. 3 this year two days before the Truckers hosted and lost to the Upper Sandusky Rams.

This trip to Whitney Field is no ordinary stroll or ride. Football players ride atop the bed of a truck, seated on straw. Accompanying them are band members belting out tunes, and cheerleaders, who lead rest of the student body in the Snake Dance. Students grab hands and walk in an "S" formation while making their way to the field. As they snake their way to the field, their giggles let you know they're having a grand time.

Robyn Brady, Norwalk High School's cheerleading adviser, said she does not know how the Snake Dance started or just how far it dates back. She did say it has been around ever since she attended Norwalk High School.

She, however, did not wish to say when that was.

"I think anything that pumps them up or gets them some spirit is fantastic," Brady said. "It's nice to see so many students participating."

Seniors Liz Hipp and Emily Lendrum said they enjoy the dance.

"I love the fun and excitement," Hipp said. "It's just crazy fun. It really gets the kids pumped up for the game."

Lendrum said of all the homecoming activities at her school, she likes the relay races the best. During the week leading up to the homecoming game, students participate in such activities to rev up their spirit.

Each grade competes against each other in contests such as a sack race, wheelbarrow race, a powder puff football game and tug of war.

Principal Bob Duncan said the school used to hold the powder puff game in the 80s before a hiatus. It was brought back this year.

The senior girls shut out the junior girls, 22-0.

Duncan said more than 300 people watched the contest.

"The kids had a great time," he said.

Of course, there's the traditional crowning of the homecoming king and queen. This year, seniors Julia Meek and Andre Gomez received the honors.

Speaking of homecoming king and queen, St. Paul High School kicked off a new royalty tradition this year.

For the first time, a past homecoming queen assisted in the crowning of the new queen. Marty Nighswander, the school's first ever homecoming queen, did the honors.

"It was special; I had a big smile (on my face)," said Nighswander, a 1971 graduate.

Nighswander noticed at least one change from the homecoming of her day. Back then, the queen was escorted across the football field by a fellow student. Today, they are escorted to the field by their fathers.

Traditions sometimes change.

Charlene Bauer, student council advisor, said for quite a few years in the 70s, St. Paul seniors would collect lumber and wood over the summer for the homecoming bonfire.

"It just sort of faded away," Bauer said. "It's time to move onto other new traditions."

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