For high school homecoming, mum’s the word: Southern tradition takes off in Texas in a big way

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Homecoming season is here — and for many young people in parts of the South, that means homecoming mum season is here, too. 

Now, however, mums — which started off as simple corsages, essentially — have become bigger than ever.  

And it’s why photos of teenage girls wearing large decorative flowers continue to flood the internet year after year.

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Here’s the story behind the “homecoming mum” phenomenon. 

Homecoming mums are said to have hit the scene in the 1930s in the South — sharing a longstanding tradition in states like Texas.

A group of seniors at Frisco High School in Frisco, Texas, show off their homecoming mums at the homecoming football game in their town. 
(Hunter Rutledge)

Kisha Clark, the founder of Mums Inc., spoke with Fox News Digital about the phenomenon and how it began. 

“If you go all the way back to where it began, [these] were actually live flowers that evolved over time to a silk flower,” the Texas mum maker said. 

This flower, normally given to a girl by her homecoming date, was a symbol that she had a date to the homecoming football game and school dance. 

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Over the years and even decades, these small live flowers turned into huge, over-the-top decorative pieces. 

Clark has been making mums for 20 years, using 1,700 square ft. in her Little Elm, Texas, home as a workspace.

Clark uses 1,700 square feet of her Texas home for a workspace to make homecoming mums each year. Over time, she said clients began wanting a more customized product. 

Clark uses 1,700 square feet of her Texas home for a workspace to make homecoming mums each year. Over time, she said clients began wanting a more customized product. 
(Kisha Clark)

Ten years ago, she started Mums Inc., an organization of mum makers across the country who share trends, tips and supplies.

A mum, at the time, would have a decorative ribbon, the homecoming dates’ names, the high school name, etc. and one fake mum flower positioned at the top. 

“Somebody somewhere added a feather boa. I’m not even sure who that was … Now I can’t make the boa situation end.”

Clark said she began to see a shift in the types of mums people were ordering. 

Clients wanted their mums to be much larger than before. 

“We started to see a shift in design where people wanted a more custom product,” she said. 

Bigger is apparently better these days when it comes to mums. The size of mums have increased each year, said the founder of Mums Inc.

Bigger is apparently better these days when it comes to mums. The size of mums have increased each year, said the founder of Mums Inc.
(Kisha Clark)

Clark said that cutting machines were new around the same time, which changed the game for mum makers. 

As the years went on, the mum flower on the designs doubled to two, then three — and on and on from there. Customers also wanted stuffed animals incorporated, plus cow bells for noise, lights for fun — even feather boas for flair. 

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“Somebody somewhere added a feather boa. I’m not even sure who that was,” said Clark.

“Now I can’t make the boa situation end,” she said. 

Mums were once worn via safety pin but now are worn around the neck with either string or a feather boa. 

Mums were once worn via safety pin but now are worn around the neck with either string or a feather boa. 
(Courtney Bliss Photography)

And in case anyone needs proof that everything really is bigger in Texas, Clark said a mum she made recently took her three days to complete and cost over $400. 

She also said the COVID pandemic, interestingly enough, has played a huge role in mum development.

“COVID changed our industry,” she said. “A lot of these people do not want their children to miss out on the ability to have some sort of normality in their lives.”

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Clark said mum sales have only increased since the lockdown.

This particular mum, as requested by the customer, resembles a paw print with multiple mum flowers. When a "student squeals in delight," mum maker Tara O'Donnell of Houston said she knows she's fulfilled the client's request.

This particular mum, as requested by the customer, resembles a paw print with multiple mum flowers. When a “student squeals in delight,” mum maker Tara O’Donnell of Houston said she knows she’s fulfilled the client’s request.
(Tara O’Donnell)

“It’s almost as if people made a new connection to spirit at school because they didn’t have it,” she said.  

Tara O’Donnell owns Tarariffic Mums in Houston, Texas, and makes an average of 60-80 mums each season. 

“After the chaos of the last few years, my mum orders this year definitely express each student’s personality,” she shared with Fox News Digital. 

O’Donnell said “themed mums” have been more specific this year, with one student even requesting the center mums resemble a paw print. 

“Whether the mom is in tears over her daughter’s senior mum or the student squeals in delight — knowing that I have made their vision a reality is a satisfying conclusion to the process,” she said. 

Source: Fox News


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