Large bonfire in front of Old Main with crowd surrounding it

Only world wars can stop University of Arizona Homecoming. 

It’s a tradition that dates back to 1914 and has only been suspended due to World War I in 1918 and World War II from 1942-45. 

Just weeks before the first Homecoming game in 1914, the Los Angeles Times wrote that the Arizona football team “showed the fight of wildcats” in a game against the Occidental College Tigers. 

The nickname stuck. 

On Thanksgiving Day, the newly-named Wildcats defeated Pomona College 7-6 in front of a crowd of 1,500. 

Homecoming gives the university the chance to celebrate Wildcat pride, honor alumni, and cheer for the football team. 

It also gave the world Wilbur T. Wildcat. On Nov. 7, 1959, the first costumed mascot, created by UArizona students Richard Heller and John Paquette, was introduced at the Homecoming game against Texas Tech University. 

Ruth Tackett was crowned Arizona’s first Homecoming queen in 1947. The queen did not have a king until 1983. Since 1988, the king and queen have been crowned at a pep rally and bonfire the Friday before the Homecoming game. 

Tents on the Mall has been a wildly popular Homecoming event since its inception in 1985. Alumni groups, organizations, sororities, fraternities, and colleges fill the Mall with hundreds of tents and offer food, drinks, entertainment, and a chance to socialize before the football game. 

The Lighting of “A” Mountain kicks off the week of festivities and events that bring tens of thousands of alumni back to Tucson.