Indiana State University Newsroom

Homecoming celebrates miles of Sycamore memories

October 4, 2012

A uniquely Sycamore tradition will be honored during Indiana State University's 2012 Homecoming celebration.

Homecoming weekend will kick off with the 50th running of the Sycamore Tricycle Derby beginning with the alumni race at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct 5. The teams participating in the men's and women's races reflect campus life - sororities, fraternities, residence halls and student organizations. There will be a special reception for former trike riders during the race in the Bareford classroom at the Michael Simmons Student Activity Center.

Students pedaled in the inaugural race on the campus Quad Oct. 11, 1963. Michael Simmons, Debbie Hulman Bareford and Tom Bareford organized the first race to encourage students to stay on campus for Homecoming weekend.

"People were on top of buildings and hanging out the windows. It was really a lot of fun," Simmons recalled.

But that first race wasn't without some unexpected challenges, ranging from locating tricycles to staying healthy.

The first challenge was finding trikes that could withstand the race. For assistance, the students turned to Debbie Bareford's father, Gordon Hulman, an employee of Hulman and Co. Debbie Bareford, a 1964 alumna, recalled how her father searched for suppliers who carried larger tricycles.

"My dad helped us to try to find bigger trikes and we just couldn't do it," she said.The tricycles used in the first race, Murray velocipedes, were ordered through the 1962-63 Hulman and Co. Gift Catalog. They arrived and were retrofitted to be stronger before participants hopped on them for the first time.

Another situation proved to be more of an inconvenience than a challenge.

"Michael got pneumonia about 10 days before the race and spent the following week in the infirmary. He was directing what was going to be done at the race from the infirmary. The rest of us hustled around, met the challenge and we got it done somehow," Tom Bareford said.

"But I was well enough to participate the day of the race," Simmons added.

Tom Bareford, a 1964 alumnus, recalled a quick trip to the store in order to remedy another challenge the group had to overcome - how to identify the riders.

50 years of Trike

"We had paper plates that were safety-pinned onto their jerseys. Each rider had a number - the first number was their team. The second number identified the rider on that team," he said.

Simmons may have his name in the history books as a race founder, but he credits the students that followed him in keeping the trike race, one of the oldest homecoming traditions in the United States, alive.

"This is the result of lots of people keeping it [the trike race] alive. The original team planted the seed and then there were hundreds of people, over the past four decades that kept adding more to the event. They have added to the history, function, and organization until today it is an important event each year at ISU. I am so proud of the students that followed us and continued the camaraderie and the spirit of the Trike Derby," he said.

The Indiana State University Alumni Association will hold the second annual Alumni Trike Race, which will kick off the longtime Sycamore tradition at 4:30 p.m. The men will complete 10 total laps as a team and women's teams will complete six laps.

Activities ramp up on Saturday, Oct. 6, beginning with the 96th annual Blue and White Parade at 9 a.m., led by a trio of Grand Parade Marshals - Simmons, Debbie and Tom Bareford.

The parade will begin at Ninth and Cherry streets, traveling down Wabash Avenue to Fifth Street and finishing up on campus.

Following the parade, the festivities continue at Memorial Stadium with Tent City, featuring live entertainment. Former trike riders are encouraged to stop by the Alumni Tent to view a special display honoring the 50th running of trike. Homecoming wouldn't be complete without football -- Indiana State will host Missouri State beginning at 3:05 p.m.

For more information about ISU Homecoming activities, go to  , email  or call 812-237-3852.

Calendar of Events

Friday, October 5

Sycamore Tricycle Derby 4:30 pm Michael Simmons Activity Center

Distinguished Alumni Awards 7:30 pm Sycamore Banquet Center

Scott College of Business Hullaballoo 7- 11 pm Federal Hall


Saturday, October 6

Blue and White Homecoming Parade 9am 9th and Cherry - Wabash-5th

Tent City 11 am - 2:30 pm Memorial Stadium

Football Game 3:05 pm Memorial Stadium


Sunday, October 7

Praise Service 10 am Dede I




The founders of the Sycamore Tricycle Derby - Michael Simmons, Debbie Hulman Bareford and Tom Bareford - at the dedication of the Michael Simmons Student Activity Center in 2005. The trio will serve as Grand Parade Marshals for Saturday's parade. 

Johnny Shipman (back to the camera) flagged the inaugural Sycamore Tricycle Derby, held on the Quad. Since then, three generations of the Shipman family have flagged the trike race.

Media contact and writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, 812-237-3783 or

Story Highlights

A uniquely Sycamore tradition will be honored during Indiana State University's 2012 Homecoming celebration. Homecoming weekend will kick off with the 50th running of the Sycamore Tricycle Derby beginning with the alumni race at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct 5.

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