A Time Distinguished by Tradition

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Correction Appended

Traditions have come and gone at the UC Berkeley campus, but Homecoming is still a time when generations of Cal families and fans come together to celebrate over 130 years of blue and gold pride.

Homecoming, which has been celebrated as far back as 1923, took a 39-year hiatus following the tumultuous atmosphere of the politically-charged campus in the 1960s.

Brought back in 2003, the campus reinstated its Homecoming weekend, including the big Homecoming rally on the Friday of the Homecoming football game - which this year is to be played against rival UCLA. The Friday night rally is a relatively new tradition, having been added after the campus Homecoming was reinstated seven years ago.

"I am looking forward to coming up to Berkeley from SoCal to see them kick ass on the gridiron," said 2010 graduate Max Keller. "I may just do it every year from now on."

Football is by far one of the most deeply-rooted celebrations of the Homecoming weekend, drawing huge crowds who "bleed blue and gold" as they cheer for the California Bears and the beloved Oski the Bear, who debuted in 1941 at Cal's football season-opener against St. Mary's.

For those who like to pre-game, another time-old tradition that stands firm with or without Homecoming is the tailgate party. It is the weekend's largest event next to the football game and, while payment is now required, fees do include second helpings.

Among the more popular and older traditions, the ever-scrumptious Fenton's will once again provide free ice cream scoops of its most popular flavors at the Cub's Kidfest Carnival on Memorial Glade. A delicious treat for all ages, the tradition has been at staple at Cal for 115 years.

The Cal Avenue is another homecoming tradition that has survived nearly a century and a half. Started in 1868, Cal Avenue - located on Upper Sproul and extending just past Sather Gate - is a place where a variety of student groups showcase the diversity of the Berkeley campus by providing guests with food, games and entertainment before the game. Both rooted in and rich with campus history, Cal Avenue continues to celebrate all that makes up Cal today.

Newer traditions have been gaining ground in recent years. Since its reinstatement in 2003, one of the most popular features of the weekend is a series of faculty seminars. This year, more than 30 of UC Berkeley's most distinguished faculty will offer their views on issues such as foreign policy and the economy and present research in areas from the current changes in the athletics department to nuclear weapons and cyber security.

Among the faculty members to speak at the seminars are city and regional planning professor Ananya Roy, linguistics professor George Lakoff and public policy professor Robert Reich. Adjunct professor and current chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission Dan Schnur, Athletic Director Sandy Barbour and rugby head coach Jack Clark are also scheduled to give presentations.

Another new aspect to the Homecoming weekend is the addition of "Parents Weekend." Activities for parents and families of Cal students have been added to more fully include them in the homecoming festivities. Not only can parents and students attend events like the faculty lecture or the football game, they participate in special receptions where they are able to learn about the campus's history and traditions (both with homecoming and with others) and are invited to go on a special tours that cover various areas of UC Berkeley.

For students, parents, faculty and fans, Homecoming is about celebrating what UC Berkeley was, is and will be. Traditions that have survived and newer ones that have flourished are just some of the aspects that make the weekend a blue and gold mecca for people from all around the world.


Correction: Friday, October 8, 2010
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Homecoming rally includes a bonfire. In fact, the rally does not include a bonfire.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Contact Katie Nelson at [email protected]

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