Simple ingredients

Oct 10, 2013 By Steven R. Peck

Homecoming week reminds us how easy it can be to maintain community ties

High school Homecoming week is a time for nostalgia, among other things. Obviously it also is a time for revelry, perhaps a bit of romance, some friendly competition on the football field, and some spirit-building at school.

As years pass, the nostalgic element creeps in far more than it does during the celebration in high school. Homecoming, if done right, becomes a memory-making enterprise.

This week three windows on our Riverton Ranger Inc. property were painted by student service clubs from Riverton High School for Homecoming week. A young person in our office asked, "What are they doing that for?" When given the answer "For Homecoming," the person said again, "But what for?"

There are many people in Riverton, Fremont County, Wyoming and around the nation to whom that question would seem odd, if not preposterous. But those sentiments come more from nostalgia. The editorial writer recalls clearly when virtually every business window in downtown Riverton was painted lavishly and enthusiastically by one high school group or another during RHS Homecoming week. There was competition to see which window you could get. The window decorations were judged for prizes by adult community members. Every decorating group tried to find at least one grade-A art student from school for the project.

Usually the windows were decorated over the weekend, so that when Homecoming week began, all was in place. Residents strolled the sidewalk in the afternoons and evenings before sunset to look at the decorations and admire them. Store owners usually were enthusiastic hosts, knowing that the windows would bring traffic by their front doors.

We can't say exactly when or why this charming and enjoyable community tradition began to erode, but erode it did. This year, there are no more than four or five Homecoming windows downtown, compared to 10 times that many a generation or two ago.

Thankfully, many other enjoyable Homecoming traditions remain. The royalty got crowned Wednesday. There will be a big pep rally, and the descendant of the bonfire survives as the "burning of R." We will have the game Friday and the dance Saturday. Each of these will serve the dual purpose of entertaining and unifying now and persisting in memory in the decades that follow.

Times change. The evidence confronts us daily, everywhere from the bathroom mirror in the morning to the dwindling number of Homecoming windows on the street. While that is something that we must accept, there is value, always, in keeping alive things which will bind us to one another in community life amid all those changes.

So we give our thanks to the Riverton High School FCCLA and Key Club for their enthusiasm in rendering our front windows into weeklong works of art, and we entreat community members never to turn away from the simple ingredients of community togetherness. Maintaining them is simpler than we think.

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