Texas homecoming brings displays of full-frontal corsages
By Amanda Orr
HOUSTON (Reuters) - An annual homecoming rite of passage is unfolding in Texas high schools this month with the presentations of heavily ornamented corsages called "mums" that stretch from neck to knees and are festooned with trinkets often weighing several pounds.
The practice of exchanging homecoming corsages originated in the early 20th century when college men gave their homecoming dates a single, live chrysanthemum with a few short lengths of ribbon to pin on their dress.
Since then, the now apron-size mums - typically with no natural flowers - that are given by high school boys to their homecoming dates have grown bigger, more ornate and more expensive.
This has led some parents, students and school administrators to question whether the tradition has gotten out of hand and fostered what could be seen as an adornment competition among students.
The culture and pageantry of Texas high school homecoming activities now reach the level of a mini-Mardi Gras with royal courts, dances, parades, pep rallies and nearly whole-body faux-floral displays.
The homecoming mums of today are jumbo, synthetic chrysanthemums. Yards of ribbon, streamers and feather boas cascade from the arrangement with decorative trinkets, cow-bells, bows, photo frames, whistles and lights attached.
The cost for custom mums can reach $75 to $250. The corsage becomes a lifelong keepsake with many girls mounting the arrangement on their bedroom wall until they move out of their parents' home.
"Over the last few years, it has gotten popular to even add hot pink, lime green, purple or turquoise to the mums," said Amy Fogarty, co-owner of the Mum Shop in Dallas, which opened 31 years ago. Continued...