Photo originally published Oct. 17, 1988

Homecoming festivities at St. Cloud State University in 1988 drew throngs of people ­— and police — and it had little to do with a football game.

For two nights, as many as 1,500 partygoers poured into the streets near campus. There was a heavy police presence both nights, but no action was taken until a fire set by the crowd (pictured at left) on the second night grew so large it threatened overhead electric wires. That prompted a police sweep of the crowd and the arrest of more than 50 people, only about half of whom were students.

The weather was unseasonably warm, making conditions ripe for what police officials said was the worst homecoming problem they'd seen in 30 years.

Brendan McDonald, then the university's president, called the disturbance "deplorable, irresponsible and unacceptable."

It also grabbed headlines across the nation, which drew numerous out-of-towners looking for a party.

"Once it hit the news media, it was like an open invitation," McDonald said. "Some people will go any distance for a party."

Nicole Hvidsten