Cal Poly Homecoming History
The Early Years: 1907 – 1912
Cal Poly's Homecoming tradition dates back more than 100 years. In 1907, the first event was a June banquet that also served as the initiation ceremony for new alumni.
Early grads wanted the reunion tradition to last, and planned for an annual banquet. "The Polytechnic Alumni are to follow their usual custom and have a reunion" every year, noted the Polytechnic Journal of 1912. They envisioned the gathering as an annual good time for "all those who are still faithful to the memory of their alma mater."
"Mustang" Homecomings: 1924 – 1935
Cal Poly alumni gathered for an annual reunion on campus at different dates throughout the year until the first official "Homecoming" Celebration on November 14 and 15, 1924. The first official "Homecoming" united the annual alumni reunion with a university football game.
According to the Nov. 13, 1924 edition of the "Polygram," "The Big Homecoming game will be witnessed next Saturday afternoon on Polytechnic field when we will see the Green and Gold playing the first game it has played at home this season. . . If everyone will help make this first day a success, the succeeding homecoming days in the future are certain to be glorious reunions of Poly's alumni."
Homecoming 1924 also marked Cal Poly's adoption of the "Mustangs" as the mascot and football team name, according to items in the Kennedy Library Archives. "In past years the boys have accepted whatever name was attached to them, but from now on the first teams will be known as the 'Mustangs,' " one 1924 events calendar notes.
In the fall of 1935, several alumni groups from across California merged into one permanent, statewide alumni organization, which became a reality following the Homecoming Banquet in November of 1935.
A New Tradition - Homecoming Queen: 1949
By 1949, Homecoming was a Cal Poly autumn tradition, and drawing more than 500 to campus for the event every year. The 1951 Homecoming celebration marked the first time Cal Poly had a Homecoming Queen. Nancy Schlegel, a 21-year-old El Corral Bookstore employee, was the wife of a Cal Poly student; she said she was honored to be the first Homecoming Queen and hoped she wouldn't be the last one.
1957 marked the 50th Homecoming at Cal Poly — and it was the second year the university had a Homecoming Queen who was also a student. Women had been re-admitted to the university in 1956, after being banned during budget cuts in 1939.
Spanos Stadium: 2007
Each year, Homecoming is a chance for alumni, parents, football fans and friends to see progress on the Spanos Stadium. The former Mustang Stadium was renovated in 2007 and now holds thousands of fans, with a new press box and skyboxes.