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You might be from a small town - if you've ever gone home for homecoming festivities

COURTEST PHOTO: KRISTIN THURSTON - The balloons fly at the Colton homecoming game announcing the king and queen. (From left) Dominic Combest-Day, Mikey Spalinger and senior court members.

Colton High School's "Homecoming" arrives in autumn; close behind the fall harvest but before the winter's snow.

Usually, at least in this small town along the Cascade foothills, the seasonal rains have begun, but sometimes when the town folks are extra lucky there is a homecoming football game when there is no rain, and the air is cool and crisp. That was the case last Thursday when, following a beautiful sunset, the stars lit up the night sky as the football players took to the home field.

This year the homecoming game pitted the Colton High School Vikings against the Sheridan Spartans and as in years past, students, families and alumni came to cheer on the team, reminisce and enjoy the concession stand.

The number of Viking supporters sitting in the stands was down this year—but they could be found standing, cheering and pacing along the side of the field as the game swung back and forth and ended with a last-minute nail-biting play (see the sports section for more details).

The special night began, as in pre-COVID days, with the CHS pep band playing the National Anthem and the cheerleaders pumping up the crowd. "We are the Vikings, the mighty, mighty Vikings." The volunteers of the Colton Fire Department were there with fire engines and rigs to blow the siren and flash the red and blue lights for home touchdowns.

At half-time, vintage cars and trucks filled with the members of the homecoming court of 2021 drove into the stadium as the crowd erupted in applause.

The court was introduced to the spectators. It included freshmen- Princess Emerson Collins, Prince Connor Thom, sophomores- Princess Evelyn Brinkley, Prince Michael Irving, juniors- Princess Evelyn Brinkley, Prince Michael Irving, senior princesses-Hailee Hordichok, Mikey Spalinger and Laina West and senior princes-Dominic Combest-Day, Tanner Johnson and Travers Rogers.

At the count of three the senior court members in the stands opened green and gold boxes and released the balloons. A gold balloon floated in front of Mikey Spalinger and Dominic Combest-Day signifying they were the 2021 Homecoming queen and king.

Asked how she felt when the gold balloon rose from the box in front of her, Queen Mikey Spalinger said she was both very happy and very surprised.

"Our senior court is very supportive of each other and that makes this extra special," she said.

Combest-Day said, "It is really cool to be selected by your peers; it means a lot."

"Homecoming is a time of traditions and celebration of Colton Vikings past and present," CHS principal Travis Remmik said. "You look around and see so many generations of families here to celebrate their school and students."

Lonny Johnson, who played for the Colton football team in 1956 was at the game supporting the Vikings.

"I need to come to more of these games. It is so much fun," he said. "The year I played was just the second year Colton had a football team. The first year of football was in 1955. Colton played with a six-man team, that next year we had 12 on the field. Coming here brings back so many memories; and a plus (that) my granddaughter, Evy (Brinkley), is a princess on the homecoming court."

As the night ended and the once bustling concession stand shuttered its windows, students were making last minute plans for Saturday night's dance. They were making memories and forming friendships that will, in small town tradition, bring them back for next year's "Homecoming."

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