A tale of kings and queens: the history of SMC homecoming
On Saturday, November 11, 1933, the field lights turned on and illuminated the Santa Monica Junior College Corsairs as they came home for the first time. Spirits ran high as both the underdog Corsairs and the mighty Ventura College Pirates took the turf at Santa Monica High School. The stout defense of the blue and white, similar to the current edition of the team, held the Pirates scoreless and behind the play of quarterback Donny Fowler, SMJC won 26-0.
The festivities were short, as the lack of their own field prevented them from playing a homecoming game for a long time afterward. Today, however, the spirit of that first game continues.
Santa Monica College’s 2014 homecoming game and subsequent celebrations are right around the corner. But before attending the most recent edition, it's best to revisit the history of homecoming in the SMC community.
In 1948, Santa Monica City College was constructed, complete with its own stadium. This would allow the school to start up a new homecoming tradition, as the newly-christened Corsairs would be able to play on their own field. School spirit must have flourished the following year, as Nov. 11,1949 hosted the first homecoming game played on campus, and student Diane Hixon was elected as the first homecoming queen. Not only did 1949 mark the school’s first homecoming, but also the Corsairs’ first loss, as the El Camino Warriors blew them away 34-0.
The next year initiated the tradition of the homecoming dance. Queen Nancy Freeman reigned over the dance on Friday night, with the following Saturday afternoon hosting a parade. That Saturday night marked the SMCC’s second homecoming loss, this time to Mount San Antonio, who ruled the field that year 40-7.
The Corsairs finally got over their slump in 1951, when they defeated El Camino 20-7. The school pride in that victory didn’t last long though, as they’d go on to lose to the Warriors again in 1952.
Fast forward to 1955, when over 900 people voted to elect Pat Sheaffer as homecoming queen, the largest turnout in the school’s history. SMC clubs created enough work to be displayed in a parade route that stretched three miles. In contrast, the homecoming game of 1956 against Harbor was won 24-7, but practically no one was there to celebrate. Surrounding fog was so thick that the total paid attendance was one.
The 1968 homecoming program had something new to offer besides the traditional game, dance, and parade. That year, SMCC hosted a battle of the bands along with the parade. 34 bands followed in homecoming queen Frances Williams wake during the parade yet only Long Beach City College's marching band made the trip worth while, winning the junior college division.
Controversy surrounded the elected queen of 1975, so much so that the Corsairs threatened not to play the second half of the homecoming game if she were to win. This was because the queen was in fact a he, and the he was Michael Heesy, also known as “Goldie Glitters.” Glitters was a female impersonator who ended up being crowned homecoming queen with a booming 38 percent of the vote.
A petition was put forth in favor of proclaiming Heesy ineligible for the position of queen. However, Heesy still won the crown, but was not publicly crowned at the game, and the Corsairs played anyway. The student was told to leave the campus after the ordeal, but was finally crowned officially by the previous Corsair advertising executive Gary Avrech.
One year later in 1975, the title of “homecoming king” was introduced as a way of dodging the “Goldie Glitters” scandal that Heesy posed prior. The first acknowledged homecoming king was Ken Ransfer.
The year Heesy won the crown was met with silent half-time activities and a more than low-key approach to homecoming celebrations. Future celebrations, however, were vastly more cheerful.
In 1989, over $26,000 was invested in homecoming, but only received $6,435 in returns. It was a huge extravaganza concocted to honor the school’s 60th anniversary. The dance was host to buffets, bars, and a 60-candle cake. Free pom-poms and balloons were even distributed among students at the game. “It was a big success in that we all had a lot of fun,” said former Budget Director, Jason Weisberger. “Financially speaking, however, we are not doing it again," he added.
Only four years later, it seemed that the financial aspect, as well as the fun, of homecoming had been done away with.
In 1993, the visiting Bakersfield College provided most of the fans at the stadium. As described by former faculty member Charles Donaldson, “Homecoming 1993 had few cheers, no pep band, no dance and no homecoming queen.” No alumni even attended the game. This year, according to Donaldson, marked the end of the well-known homecoming tradition.
School spirit doesn’t seem to have stayed diminished, however. SMC continues the homecoming tradition even today and the upcoming game against the Santa Barbara City College Vaqueros this year promises to be full of excitement and the age-old rush of competition.