Homecoming is one of the many proud traditions at Oklahoma State University, and perhaps one of the most widely known. Every year, thousands of OSU alumni and fans return to Stillwater, taking part in what supporters claim as the biggest and best homecoming celebration in the country.
Traditional festivities include the Friday evening "walkaround" for visitors to view large, elaborate house decorations on the lawns of fraternity and sorority houses, with several vendors scattered throughout the tour route. There is also the "Sea of Orange Parade," a Saturday morning parade down Main Street in Stillwater with decorated floats, high school marching bands, horses, and politicians. Capping off the festivities is the traditional homecoming football game at Boone Pickens Stadium, typically played Saturday evening. Hester Street is typically painted with words of encouragement for the football team for when they take part in The Walk; a tradition started by former coach Les Miles where tens of thousands of Cowboy fans line Hester Street as the team walks from the Student Union to Boone Pickens Stadium. In recent years, the men's basketball team has hosted their annual Basketball Bash now Homecoming and Hoops in Gallagher-Iba Arena on Homecoming Saturday afternoon, allowing the throng of OSU fans in home for the football game to catch a glimpse of the basketball Pokes before basketball season begins. It is estimated that over 60,000 people attend this event every year.
Oklahoma State's homecoming has its roots in the annual Harvest Carnival (a tradition that's still a part of Homecoming today) that first began in 1913 as festival including agricultural exhibits, a Harvest Queen competition, a parade, and an evening carnival. By 1920, the Harvest Carnival had been replaced with homecoming. In 1921, the Oklahoma State University Alumni Association adopted homecoming as an official alumni association event. The Harvest Carnival parade was retained and became a part of the homecoming celebration, and continues to be a big part of the tradition. In the 1920s, sororities began decorating the doorways and exteriors of their houses, which later gave way to the elaborate house decorations on the lawns of fraternities, sororities, and dormitories that inspired the Friday evening walkaround. Theta Pond is also traditionally lined with orange lights and the water in the fountain in front of Edmon Low Library is dyed Cowboy orange during Homecoming week.