CLOSER LOOK — Change in tradition: Homecoming corsages, mums take over Southeast Texas

Published 12:15 am Saturday, September 28, 2019

For years the Homecoming Mum has been a tradition across Texas, but where did it come from and was it always so flashy?

What started out as a simple gesture to show affection to a girl in honor of the high school homecoming festivities quickly turned into a flourishing business.

The chrysanthemum, the flower at the center of the concoction, used to stand with a couple ribbons and circle the girls wrist like a bracelet, now it is joined by ribbons galore, twinkling bells, trinkets, lights and an occasional stuffed animal — but no one would know the change of the trade better than Felicia Rossi.

Ace Hobby & Gifts is a craft store located off of Nederland Avenue. Felicia Rossi, the storeowner offers pre-made mums on display for last minute purchases. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

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Rossi, who owns Ace Hobby in Nederland, has been making homecoming mums, also known as corsages, for more than 40 years. Her services encompass Mid-County and surrounding cities.

“For this area it is different for others because here in the Mid-County area the middle schools and elementary schools (order mums),” she said. “Elementary more for fun, but middle school also for dates to go to the game.”

Rossi said she has seen a decline in business for high school mums in the last several years.

Ace Hobby & Gifts is a craft store located off of Nederland Avenue. The store services custom and pre-made mums while also offering several trinkets, ribbon colors and items for someone wanting to make their own corsages. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

“Nederland just brought the homecoming dance back three years ago and it’s become almost like prom,” she said. “People get dressed up. Some want wrist corsages, some don’t want anything but very few want large corsages. So it’s not a high school thing anymore, at least not right now in this area. Probably about 15 years ago we did only for high school — it’s changed a lot.”

Ace Hobby has been on Nederland Avenue for 59 years, Rossi has been making corsages at that location for 40 years and it’s no longer ‘the bigger, the better.’

“If you could financially afford it, you’d have (a mum) that goes over the shoulder, those were big at one time,” she said. “Now, if you look on Pinterest and the Internet, they go across your body. I don’t make too many of those, I have but not often.”

Amy Peveto handcrafted a mum for her son and his girlfriend by joining their two schools — Orangefield and Nederland. (Courtesy photo)

A change in tradition has also included a change in colors.

“Back in the day seniors only wore white, now no one wants just a white mum,” Rossi said. “One year what was real big was splatter paint, so we splatter painted corsages.

“For a few years they wanted color, it didn’t matter if you went to Nederland you got pink added to it. It didn’t matter if you went to Port Neches and wanted lime green with it, we added lime green. Now, we still do a little bit of colors but not so much.”

In the midst of homecoming season, Rossi said she makes a couple hundred corsages, including several dozen that get mailed out to houses in Sabine Pass, Bridge City, Little Cypress-Mauriceville and beyond.

“I like coming up with different ideas,” she said. “It’s always something new or different.”

Ace Hobby sells pre-made and custom made mums along with the separate material for a do-it-yourselfer. For more information, visit Ace Hobby on Facebook.

Halie Ridley and Hayden Dwyer sport their Orangefield homecoming mum and garter handmade by Amy Peveto last year. (Courtesy photo)

Hobby & Passion

Amy Peveto, an Orangefield native mixes hobby and sale for her business Beyond A-Door-Able, where she has extended her custom-made wreath business to include mums.

“It’s really kind of funny,” she said. “After I graduated high school it started out as a hobby but about five years ago it turned into a different thing for me. Now, every year it seems like I add new school district and it’s just become bigger.”

Peveto sells mums all over the Golden Triangle including Kountze and Hardin-Jefferson, having even shipped one to Chicago last year and one to Washington this year. Peveto said her crafting is like her therapy.

“I love doing it,” she said. “I felt like a lot of stores are over priced so I thought I could turn it into a profit. But in special cases, like after Harvey and Imelda hit us, I try to go out and surprise a couple families with them free of charge. Just to make someone smile.”

Peveto said she has watched the trends vary across different areas and made mums as big as the state of Texas to small headbands.

“It really changes by community,” she said. “I made one a couple years ago that was in the shape of Texas and this year the neatest one I’ve made is for my son and his girlfriend. She goes to Nederland and they’re homecomings are a week apart so they wanted to attend both. I did half a Nederland and half an Orangefield mum and it’s pretty big.”

Peveto, who works a full time job as a lab manager at Endocrine Clinic in Beaumont, has found joy in her side job that allows her to connect with different people.

“I just love when the people who have bought (my mums) send me pictures of little kids wearing them,” she said. “I love that.”

For more information, visit Beyond A-Door-Able on Facebook.

For the family

For Carol Meaux, she services a much smaller, more intimate community, free of charge — her family. The stay-at-home mom rediscovered her love for crafts and creativity when asked to make her son, Ryan Pham’s seventh grade garter.

“This is the first time I’ve made the mums for my family, but when I was in high school I made them for myself,” she said. “I asked my son if he wanted me to buy his garter from the store or make it myself, and he said ‘No mom you make it.’ So I guess he trusted my creativity.”

Meaux said she gathered up materials from a local craft store and the process came back to her easily.

It includes hot glue, staples, ribbon and trinkets, she said.

Upon seeing her brother’s garter being made, Josie Meaux, a precious 6 year old, petitioned her mother for her own tiny mum.

“(Josie) said she wanted one so I made her a mini one,” Carol Meaux said. “I think it’s about being able to watch their mom make it and appreciate it. I like crafting period. It’s fun to put something together and make it pretty. I just like doing things that have a different aspect that’s fun and relaxing.”

Besides doing the occasional mum and garter for her family, Meaux crochets various items that she sells on her Facebook page, Just Crafting Around by Carol.

So, whether it’s a thriving store-front business, a home hobby turned side job or a family tradition, the Texas homecoming mum has always done one thing — brought people closer together.