Eight Decades of Homecoming Royalty Return for Minnehaha Academy's 100th Anniversary
With fall comes football, and with football comes Homecoming
It's time for returning royalty to anoint their successors.
Friday night at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, 30 former kings and queens came back for the festivities, including the school's very first queen, who was crowned in 1943.
It was all part of Minnehaha's 100th anniversary celebration.
85-year-old Jean LeVahn Larson has vivid memories from her coronation--69 years ago.
Well, sort of.
"I can remember doing it, yes, but I can’t recall the details," she said.
Jean attended Friday's event with her husband Chet; the two started dated just weeks before she won the crown. He was a year younger, and, according to Jean, "very popular." Being new to the school that year, she thinks Chet helped sway the vote.
Chet pretty much agrees, saying, "I told all my friends to vote for her."
Was it really just a popularity contest, even back then? "I suppose so," Jean said. "I just really don't remember."
Did she cry when she won? "I don't think so, Jean said. "I was probably too excited to cry."
What did she wear? "My mother made me a red velvet jacket to go over my red and white polka dot dress that I had worn to a formal. So I had the school colors on and..." She paused. "That's all I really remember."
Did she get a crown? "I don't think so. I can't remember," she said, laughing.
In all, about 400 Minnehahah alumni came home for Homecoming. At least one king or queen from each of the last eight decades was on hand to partake. "We put the word out," said school president Dr. Donna Harris. "We're so thrilled so many came. Some of them even said, 'I wonder if I can fit into my original dress?' They're as excited as we are about he school's next 100 years!"
Among the other notables at the coronation, 95-year-old Niles Batdorf, who graduated in 1935. Does it feel like yesterday? "Well, no," he chuckled. "There's been a lot of water over the dam since then."
And then there was 100-year-old former teacher Evangeline Peterson. "People wanted me to come because I was the same age as the school," she said with a smile. She retired from Minnehaha in 1977 afer 32 years. Though she's now lost most of her sight, she says the school, and everyone connected to it, haven't changed a bit.
"I see people in my mind's eye, so they look just as young as the last time I saw them, when I had good vision," she said.
At the end of the evening, when Casey Haffield and Marcellous Hazzard were crowned as Minnehaha's 2012 Homecoming queen and king, Jean Larson and the other returning royalty stood behind them on the stage, no doubt remembering their own time in the spotlight, long ago.
Shortly before she took her place, Jean mused about the new queen, "I'll be looking at her and thinking, 'a lot has happened over the years'."
And while she readily admits she can't remember all the particulars about that shining moment, 69 Homecomings ago, she'll never forget the feeling. "I just think it was a very proud moment for me," she said.
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at email@example.com