Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Homecoming, a tradition

By , 25 February, 2010, No Comment

Homecoming is a festive time in a high school’s schedule of events. Traditionally it has been an occasion for alumni to return to the school and gather for reunions to renew acquaintances.  Over time, it has evolved into a signature event for the high school to boost school loyalty laced with a bit of jingoism for the spirit of the school, and most certainly the camaraderie support of the football team. I imagine every reader has at least one flashback on a memorable event such as the Homecoming game, a lively pep-rally, or memorable homecoming dance.

This year at ZHS the current homecoming week features a series of confidence-boosting, rally-enhancing merriment that will lift the football team and foster cohesiveness.  The scheduled events include designated dress-up days for the week, homecoming parade, the illustrious football game and a homecoming dance. A bit of easing of the school district official code of conduct’s dress code for the week permits students to assemble a creative outfit each day to reveal their true school spirit.  With homecoming week coinciding with Halloween, ZHS Student Council has capitalized on the time of the year to designate the official parade theme as ‘Favorite Horror Movie and/or Villian,’ so we should see some unique floats in the community parade on Friday.

If you happen to pass by the ZHS campus this week, you will see students dressed according to the designated Homecoming days which include:

Monday – Sports Day – Adorn your favorite professional or college team’s attire

Tuesday – Spotlight Day – Dress in red, green or yellow to designate your dating status?

Wednesday – Horror Movie or Favorite Villain Day?

Thursday – Twin Day – Select a friend and dress in matching twin outfits.

Friday – Spirit Day – Adorn yourself in orange and black and prepare the football team for victory!

Also note that the Homecoming Parade occurs in downtown Zephyrhills on Friday afternoon followed by the Homecoming game at the ZHS football field in the evening against Gulf High School.

Saturday – the Homecoming dance occurs in the Activity Center

So what of the history of homecoming at ZHS? We did a bit of digging to reveal to you a few snippets of information. We know of course that the first football team at ZHS was born in 1941-42 and composed of Dick Grange, Dick Tucker, Vernon Shaeffer, B.J. East, Nattie Storms, Bill Duey, Carl Lippincott, Willie Smith, Sanford Delk, Otis Jones, Norman Turner, Merrill Cherry, Carl England, Thurman Clardy, Richard Kelly, Billy Parsons and  Coach Thomas Burch Cornelius, and Assistant Coach,  W.W. Jackson. (Photo included) For several years due to World War II, ZHS was without a football team so we can only surmise that homecoming didn’t begin until a few years later.

Members of Zephyrhills High School's inaugural football team that played in 1941

Members of Zephyrhills High School's inaugural football team that played in 1941

In our research we found mention of homecoming around 1949. Our ZHS 100 committee has entertained the idea of compiling a comprehensive list of the homecoming games/scores as well as the homecoming queens and kings throughout history.  With this idea in mind, we invite you to send us information about the homecoming activities you recall. We promise to compile these for the upcoming centennial celebrations. Here are a few glimpses at homecomings that appeared to be prominent in the microfilm of the Zephyrhills News. For our history buffs out there, we hope these accounts will bring smiles to your face.

1950: Mary Ann Vestal ruled as queen over the ZHS Homecoming Game last Wednesday night and Paula Staples as princess. Others appearing in the half-time festivities were:  Lynda Wheeler, Vonda Clardy, Bunny Sue Sibley, and Julia Belle Pracher. Roger Whitworth was king and Jake Sapp, prince.  Jean Johnson, the 1949 Homecoming Queen crowned our new queen.

1953: 1953 Homecoming King and Queen are Raymond Geiger and Joan Myers. Neva Sellars, President of the class, served as emcee for the program.

1956: Colorful ZHS Homecoming festivities began Friday evening at toss-up time, when Bulldogs co-captains, Glenn Miller and Joe Thorn and sponsors, Ann Smith and Margaret Keen were spotted meeting the Crystal River captains and their sponsors on Krusen Field.  Drena Hampton was crowned by Carol Hughes, 1955 queen, with a tiara, given last year by former Mayor and Mrs. I.A. Krusen for the purpose.

1959: ZHS annual homecoming festivities will be climaxed this Friday evening with the crowning of royalty during halftime at Krusen Field.  A parade of floats will originate at the campus. Led by a police escort,  cheerleaders, majorettes, band, and class and organization floats will parade north on 10th street to 5th Avenue and then west to 1st street. The paraders will stop at 5th Avenue and 8th Street for a pep rally.  Another rally will be held after the parade.  The king and prince have been selected by members of the ZHS football team, under auspices of Student Council President, Bobby Baggett. Loretta Bamberger, homecoming queen for 1958, will crown 1959 royalty.

1961: Highlighting the ZHS’s 1961 homecoming festivities during halftime of the football game between the Bulldogs and the East Bay Indians at Charles B. Krusen Memorial Field Friday evening was the crowing of Linda Cavin as queen and Frank Kersey as king.  Sharing coronation honors with them were Bonnie Rannald as princess and Johnny Clements as prince. Dorothy Daniels, last year’s homecoming queen, crowned Queen Linda and King Frank in ceremonies, emceed by David Smith, last year’s student council president. Miss Cavin was escorted by Buzzie Reutimann.

Zephyrhills High School's 1951 Royalty were Homecoming Queen Joan Johnson, and Homecoming King Billy Richard

Zephyrhills High School's 1951 Royalty were Homecoming Queen Joan Johnson, and Homecoming King Billy Richard

1963: At the half-time Friday night, Judy Smith was crowned Homecoming Queen by 1962 Queen Susan Nichols. Diane Clements was crowned Princess by last year’s Princess, Anna Jo Davis.  Linda Sante and Mary Stanley were named sophomore and freshman maids. Also out for the coronation was “Big Mike” McGinnis who was crowned Homecoming King for 1963 and Ronnie Carroll, prince. And to top it all off, the Student Council sponsored the Homecoming Dance Saturday night. David Myers was in charge of the decorations and entertainment for the night. The room was strung with orange and black streamers meeting in the center. Up on the stage was a huge orange “Z”, donated by the seniors from their float.  It was flanked by foil letters saying “ZHS Homecoming.”  The FFA String Band performed for us and the rest of the program was emceed by Karol Kelly of Radio Station WZRH.

1968: Homecoming was one of the best and most successful for ZHS. There was something for everyone to participate in whether it was sticking a pin into  “Voodoo Ram” or cheering the team on at pep rally. The week ended perfectly with the team winning. During halftime of the game the Bulldog Marching Band formed a heart and as royalty candidates were escorted down the center. Everyone held their breath as Mr. Bill Brown (emcee) opened the envelope containing the final results. Sue Douglas was crowned 1968 Homecoming Queen by last year’s queen, Donna Bales.  Johnny Braxton was selected by the entire football team to reign with her as Homecoming King.  Two very deserving juniors, Sabra Cooper and Keathel Chauncey, received the honored titles of Homecoming Princess and Prince. Completing the Royalty Court were Lois Wells and Martha Padgett. Juniors captured first place honors with their float, “Darn the Rams.”  Second place honors went to the freshmen with their float, “Whip the Rams.”  Third place was awarded to the Senior Class with their float, “Dam the Rams.” The sophomores placed last with their float, “Knock Out the Rams,” but they received the honor of burning the “Voodoo Ram” at the bonfire and were recognized for decorating the halls with the best posters. Alumni were recognized at half time by being asked to stand. Mrs. Angie Skinner and Frank Sellars received a gift for being the earliest graduates of ZHS present at the game.

1970: ZHS had its first Homecoming egg toss. ‘Movies’ was the theme for 1970 Homecoming floats. Bruce Vogel, junior class president, said that the bonfire, pep rally and car smash scheduled for next Thursday is going to be the best ever. Other activities include tricycle races during lunch hours.

1971: Joni Palmer was crowned queen at halftime of the football game between ZHS and South Sumter High. Crowning the new queen was Ginger Douglas. Glenda Sisk, last year’s princess, crowned this year’s junior class winner, Janet Edmonston. Elected in voting within the football squad were James ‘Ricky’ Giles as King and Van McKenzie as Prince.

1973: Featured in the coronation of Homecoming Royalty at halftime of Friday night’s football game were six ZHS students:  Sue Sinacola, Queen Carl Hill (no. 10), King; Princess Patty Rutherford, and  Prince, Larry Hilton (no. 60). Flanking the group was Marta Meengs, freshman maid and Carla Burkham, sophomore maid.

1974: Karen Hughes was chosen by her fellow classmates to reign as the 1974 ZHS Homecoming Queen. The halftime coronation ceremonies were a highlight of the football game with Dunnellon Friday night. Others on the field at the climax of the ritual were Carla Burkam, sophomore maid; Dirk Padgett, Homecoming King; Christi Spoto, Princess; John Fries, Prince and Nancy Dockery, Freshman Maid.

The 1967 Homecoming Queen, Nancy Bently, crowns the 1968 Queen, Donna Bales

The 1967 Homecoming Queen, Nancy Bently, crowns the 1968 Queen, Donna Bales

1976: The homecoming royalty at Krusen Field  were King Ricky Padgett, named by the football team; Queen Andra Douglas, chosen by the student body and Trish Inman as Princess and Phil Fries as Prince. Chairman of the float committee is Beaty Cunningham and he said the parade float theme will be “Song Titles.” Floats will be judged on originality, construction, and appearance and the trophy will be awarded at halftime Friday night.

1978: Big events include a bonfire today after band practice and coronation rehearsal, and the annual Homecoming parade through downtown Zephyrhills. Teresa Ashbaugh is parade chairman.Candidates for Homecoming Queen are: Angie Baker, Brenda Howell, Cindy Dann, and Darlene Roman.

1995: Homecoming court is: Deana Deno, queen; Ricky Moore, king; Emilee Lewis, princess; Kevin Barry, prince; Rana Prior, sophomore maid; Brad Wernsing, sophomore squire; Elisia Rickard, freshman maid; and Will Stimpson, freshman squire.  A series of special contests and dress-up activities are sponsored and underway to boost enthusiasm.

Our list is by no means comprehensive, so send us your recollections, news clippings and memorabilia for our centennial bash! Savor the memories also!

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on October 22, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

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