By Allison Johnson
Homecoming is perhaps the most colorful and festive time of year for Basalt schools. According to longtime local Janice Duroux, whose family boasts three generations of Basalt school graduates, the school colors trace their roots back to the early 1930s when her father’s class chose not only the royal purple and gold colors we still wear today, but they also picked the Longhorn for Basalt’s school mascot.
Duroux herself attended Basalt schools in the 1960s and was a member of the first class to graduate out of what is now the Basalt Middle School gymnasium. Back in those days, Basalt was so small that all students attended school on the same campus and also participated in homecoming activities together. By the 1980s, all three schools were still walking in the parade together.
Quent Williams, whose graduating class was 32 students in 1985, remembers one year in elementary school when the homecoming theme was disco. During the parade, he and his young classmates would walk a little ways and then stop and bust out their disco moves.
At the time, Two Rivers Road was considered a state highway, so the parade took the back road into Basalt, around Lions Park and returned again. The community came out in force to line the route and cheer on its students. By the 1990s, however, the elementary school students lined the parade as well. The homecoming court rode in the parade much like today but the high school floats were more extravagant, built of folded crepe paper and chicken wire that took weeks of planning to build.
“All week long you worked on the float at someone’s house and there was a class competition as well,” Duroux recalls.
The parade at various times included a marching band, fire trucks and police escort, much like today.
Rise, fall then rise of football
In the 1960s, the only homecoming sport was football. Girls didn’t have a volleyball team until the 1970s after Title IX. Janice Duroux remembers supporting winning homecoming football teams in the 1970s and 1980s, but by the 1990s, football was on the wane in Basalt. In 1991, the high school yearbook noted that “homecoming was special this year because the football team won.”
In 1993, even soccer had trouble fielding a full team. Becky Bogner Musselman, who graduated that year and, like Williams, had a spot on the royal court, remembers that the homecoming soccer game required fielding co-ed teams to play Carbondale because neither side had enough girls or boys.
Within a few years the football program returned. Duroux credits current coach Carl Frerichs with rebuilding the program and feels that the way homecoming today honors the younger athletes by allowing them to ride in the parade and run onto the field at the game helps keep that Longhorn spirit alive.
“It’s exciting to have them continue the support from elementary and middle right on up to high school, because we really are all one school,” she says.
In the old days, the week’s activities were dominated by a particular theme. The parade happened on a Saturday morning and the game was held that afternoon, primarily because the middle school field had no lights.
Quent Williams thinks the lights were put in his senior year. Both Williams and Duroux remember a homecoming bonfire that was held on campus and the snake dance that followed. All students would link hands and walk down over the hanging bridge and through Basalt. Duroux especially remembers crossing the bridge.
“We snake-danced over the swinging bridge when it really used to swing,” she recalls. “Swing it down and touch the water and swing it back and forth. They fixed it, though. It’s much safer now.”
The old Basalt High School yearbooks make clear that high school students took their spirit days seriously. Dress up days included Old West and hippy themes, while competitions ranged from a pineapple toss to a hula hoop competition to 1989’s “Chubby Bunny Contest.” According to the yearbooks the powderpuff and brute volleyball competitions were popular in the 1980s and 1990s as well as today.
Duroux feels that the tradition of homecoming has held up well over the years in Basalt, although she wishes more families whose students have left the system would continue to support the events.
“It’s important to get the community to be involved in the school,” she says. “Back in those days, the grandmas, the great grandmas, the aunts, the uncles, the cousins all came to the games and it was a community event. I think that’s coming back. It’s important for children to see that the community and the old timers and their relatives are interested in what they do at the schools.”
To Musselman, whose own son is a high school student now, Basalt’s homecoming isn’t just a week of activities for students.
“It’s multigenerational and a part of Americana,” she says. “We swap stories now about what homecoming was like. It’s part of the larger American culture and a rite of passage in itself.”