The Daily Illini

History of Dads Weekend


1920

The University of Illinois celebrated its first “Dads Day Weekend.” Not only was this a first for the University, but it was also the first official Dads Day in the country. It is said that Alpha Delta Phi started the idea for Dads Day Weekend. According to a later program, the weekend involved the ROTC parade, dinners, a football game against Ohio State and “evening smokers.” It was estimated that around 2,000 dads attended, and even went to class with their sons and daughters.

1921

On this Dads Day, the Dads Association was officially formed. The original association consisted of five members in a committee, a secretary, vice president and president. Qualifications to be considered for the association included having a child who attended the University. In a letter sent to potential members, the association strived to be so popular that, “Every dad in the state will want to be a member of it; so it will be necessary for him to send his boy or girl to the University in order to be eligible to membership in the Association.”

1924

This was the fifth annual Dads Day. Events involved a Military Parade, the Iowa vs. Illinois football game and an annual address to dads. A song called “We’re Dads” was featured on the program, which goes to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne.”

1932

Dads and family members fought the cold weather to attend the annual Dads Day events. Orange flags around campus welcomed dads, and events included campus tours, the annual Dads Association meeting and the Illini football game against Indiana. The Illini won their first Big Ten home football game after four years.

1938

The University of Illinois prepared events to host an expected 5,000 dads for the weekend’s festivities.

1942

No formal Dads Weekend was planned because of World War II. According to a previous article in The Daily Illini, only 500 dads were able to attend the year’s festivities.

1948

“Bringing Up Father,” a dance for dads and their sons and daughters, occurred for the second time. Selected dads went on-stage and fed their daughters from a milk bottle. Hosted in the Illini Union Ballroom, the event filled almost to capacity.

1960

This marked the 41st annual Dads Day. In order to avoid possible bad weather conditions, Dads Day was switched from Nov. 12 to Oct. 22.

1971

Dads Weekend involved a wheelchair football game held at the Armory. Activities also included gambling at the Illini Union Student Activities “casino” in the Illini Union.

1985-91

Dads Night Out was sponsored by Atius-Sachem. The event included snacks, soft drinks and liquor. The event was free, and included live entertainment and performances.

The material used in this story was compiled from newspapers, as well as historical documents from the University of Illinois’ Digital Newspaper Collection and the Life and Culture Archives.

Victoria can be reached [email protected]

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