‘Whole Town’ Joins Giant Parade To Welcome World Champs Home

‘Whole Town’ Joins Giant Parade To Welcome World Champs Home

Wild, Joyous, Spine-Tingling, Noisy Demonstration In 17th Hour; Gala Banquet Tonight To Climax Victory Celebration

Daily Herald-Telephone

March 19, 1953

From the March 19, 1953 Bloomington Daily Herald-Telephone

Indiana University’s conquering heroes (NCAA basketball champs) returned to Bloomington today and were given a fitting hero’s welcome by a tumultuous throng of University and townspeople.

The celebration which began last night, immediately after Indiana had defeated Kansas, was to be climaxed tonight with the “Hurryin’ Hoosiers Banquet” in Alumni Hall.

Even sports fans who just yesterday were only luke-warm in their enthusiasm for the team – they were afraid Indiana couldn’t knock off mighty Kansas for the title – today gathered at Tenth and Indiana to cheer their lungs out when the Hurryin’ Hoosiers arrived.

The team would have been given a rousing reception, of course, whether it had won that final game or not, but that NCAAA title added zest to the celebration. The royal carpet was rolled out for the current kings of the basketball world.

And, tonight the team and Coach Branch McCracken were to be royally feted at a banquet in Alumni Hall, co-sponsored by the Bloomington Junior Chamber of Commerce and the IU Union Board.

Tickets to the event, which earlier were moving slowly, today were “as scarce as hen’s teeth.” Everybody, apparently, wanted to be on hand to personally toast the national champs.

Immediately after the final gun sounded in the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium last night, ending the game which Indiana had won 69 to 68, the wild celebration started in Bloomington.

At first it was only one car horn. Then it was cheering. Then it was many car horns. Then it was the sound of fire crackers. There was snake-dancing in the streets, and the Fire Dept. was called to put out a bonfire on the public square at 1:40 a.m.

The celebrating crowd of students and townspeople alike ranged from the campus to the square approximately 1,000 persons converged on the square singing, chanting, yelling and just laughing happily.

Bloomington police kept a twinkling watchful eye on the goings-on, but secretly felt like whooping it up themselves.

The high point of the celebration was reached at approximately 1 a.m., after which the celebrants gradually began dispersing – possibly with an eye to saving their energy for the celebration today when the team returned.

Today, the burning question on the IU campus was whether school would be in session. The students felt that the winning of a national basketball championship ought to entitle them to a one-day holiday. However, from Dean of Students Col. R.L. Shoemaker’s office came this pronouncement: “There will be classes as usual. The responsibility of attending or not attending will be the student’s, not the university’s.”

However, one student reported he called his teacher to ask whether he would be counted absent if he didn’t attend and she said she wouldn’t be there, either. Classes generally had slim attendance.

From the March 19, 1953 Bloomington Daily Herald-Telephone

The IU team arrived in Indianapolis by airline at 1:30 p.m. today, then came on to Bloomington by chartered bus, unaware of the celebration that had been cooked up for it.

The bus was met at Cascades park, where the team members, Coach McCracken, Assistant Coach Ernie Andres and Trainer Spike Dixon were transferred to convertibles and whisked to Tenth and College, where the units of the surprise victory parade had assembled.

The Weather Man, in the spirit of the occasion, gave forth with one of his most beautiful Spring days. The sun shone brightly. The sky was cloudless, and the temperature had soared into the 60’s.

The horn-tooting, yelling, band-playing parade wound its way through town, around the campus and ended at the Fieldhouse where Spike Dixon’s car had been parked since the team left for Chicago last Friday. There the groups slowly dispersed to prepare for tonight’s banquet.

Main speaker at the banquet will be Jack Brickhouse, nationally known radio and television announcer, who was scheduled to .tell the audience what it already knew, that Indiana had a great basketball team.

Appropriately enough, members of I.U.s 1940 NCAA championship team were on hand to help fete this newer edition. Other stars of great Hoosier teams were to be on hand.

Judging from the terrific adance demand for tickets for the banquet, the hall was scheduled to be jam-packed with fans eager to pay their homage to the champs.

Trophies, awards and presents were readied for the event today, the prizes having been donated by business houses and industries.

Like words of magic, the names of “Schulndt, Leonard, Farley, Kraak, Scott, White, Byers, Deakyne Poff, Schooley, Taylor, Chambers and Wright,” were on everybody’s lips today.

And those names were destined to go down in history in the list of “greats” in a long succession of greats among McCracken-coached basketball teams.