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The Story Behind Falls' Burgundy and Gray

It's hard not to notice the the official colors of Menomonee Falls, burgundy and gray, all over the village. But what do those colors mean?

As a resident of Menomonee Falls, it’s hard not to notice the prevalence of burgundy and gray. Those, of course, are the official colors of the high school and village. Burgundy and gray adorn all the sports uniforms at Menomonee Falls High School, the squad cars, bumper stickers, Indians apparel, and even the flag outside Village Hall.

However, the story behind the burgundy and gray is more than just a relationship of compatible colors. Those two colors, which have come to represent a community, are also a symbol of resolution and compromise.

Why Burgundy and Gray?

Patch started its search for the meaning behind the burgundy and gray by contacting Falls’ living and breathing history textbook, Jim Jeskewitz. Jeskewitz, who coached the Menomonee Falls East Titans football team, didn’t let Patch down. He pinpointed the exact year and season that the colors were chosen.

“I believe it was 1983 when the vote was taken to change the colors because the two high schools were going to be combined in 1984,” Jeskewitz said off the top of his head.

Nearly 30 years ago the Menomonee Falls School District found itself in an economic situation not unlike the district’s present fiscal challenges. In 1983, enrollment and state aid were falling in the district, and school leaders were forced to make a significant cost-saving move. They agreed to combine Menomonee Falls North and Menomonee Falls East high schools starting in the 1984-85 school year.

In fall of 1983, the North Indians and the East Titans football teams renewed their intra-village rivalry for the 15th and final time at Schumann Stadium. The Indians pounded the Titans 30-0.

Just a month later, a combined caucus of Student Council representatives from North and East high schools held several meetings to determine the mascot and colors for the soon-to-be-combined high school. It was a decision that would create a new tradition in the district and village.

The Titans donned gold and blue on their uniforms, and the Indians clad themselves in purple and white. It was a clash of traditions. The colors purple and white were connected with Falls since 1910, and the Indian mascot stretched back to 1945.

“I never realized how passionate people were about their mascot and colors,” said Richard Woosencraft, the former Falls principal whose name graces the street sign on the road leading to MFHS. “I had former students and teachers come up to me at the time and say they bled purple and white, and said we couldn’t change those colors.”

Despite deep-seated passions from the Titan and Indian faithful, the Student Council reached a solution based upon comprise and new beginnings. All students vacated the North building and transferred to the East facilities. Since East students kept their building, they decided to allow North students to keep the Indians mascot and a piece of their identity.

The Student Council members also voted 15-2 to change the colors to burgundy and gray. That way, all students could unite under new colors and start a new legacy together. A council representative at the time said they didn’t want students to be divided during the inaugural school year.

“The mascot was the big issue, and the colors were more of a soothing over decision,” Woosencraft said.

In November 1983, the School Board gave final approval of the new colors on a 4-2 vote. A vote was necessary since the district would need to spend $27,000 on new uniforms.

“After 20 years in the district, the best thing we ever did was to change those colors. The blue and gold were ugliest football uniforms I’d ever seen,” Woosencraft joked.

Woosencraft said the colors don’t signify anything in particular – they were just compatible colors. However, it seems unity and compromise is a fair set of values to attach to the burgundy and gray flag flying over Village Hall. More than a week removed from a contentious election, differences and hostility still remains sharp amongst voters. Perhaps the next time you’re knee deep in divisive conversation with someone, Falls’ burgundy and gray will remind you that comprise can lead to united new beginnings.

jerry mislang November 17, 2012 at 01:01 PM
GREAT topic Carl! Getting information from "the living and breathing history textbook" and Wooz makes it all the better. I went to UW-LaCrosse as did a large number of Falls grads did back in the day (as I believe Coach Jes did) and their colors are the same, so I guess I always thought there was some connection. If there are any student council members from 1983-84, it would be great if they could add some extra insight. Once again, great topic, keepim' coming!
Lynn Snow November 17, 2012 at 02:16 PM
As students, we actually voted for the new colors from a list of pre-approved combinations. All in all, it was an easy transition. School spirit was high that first year and we were proud to be the first graduating class of the combined class.
Heather November 17, 2012 at 03:49 PM
I'm new to the town so this may have a simple answer I'm not aware of. Why does the boys soccer team have blue and yellow uniforms? Throw backs to the Titian's?
Sara November 17, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Blue's for loyalty Gold's for royalty....our colors were not "ugly" to us students. We wore them with pride!
Jmoney November 17, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Not at all, I have number of friends on the team. They have far more than that. They have blue, gold, maroon, white, black, tan, orange, and pink. I guess they have that many because their coach likes to change it up or something.
Jann November 18, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Carol, I agree with you 100%. I found it offensive that Woosencraft made this comment to the Patch. I remember driving by the stadium that we shared with North on a Friday night and I would see all that purple and white and think....Yuck, that looks terrible. I would have preferred a different shade of gold for my track and basketball uniform, but the metallic gold (which my uniforms did not have) on the football helmuts and pom poms looked great under the lights. Also, I would have preferred Woosencraft Dr. to be named after Coach Jeskewitz or Coach Hessler as their ties to the community go way back.
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) November 18, 2012 at 05:24 AM
Burgundy and gray all the way...and long live the Indian name and logo.
Beth November 18, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Lynn is correct all students who were in one of the high schools voted for pre-approved color combinations and the mascot. There were several of each to vote for. It really was an easy transition and we welcomed our old friends to the East building. Most of us already knew each other from elementary and middle school. there were still two middle schools at the time as well. TJ and BF.
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) November 19, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Ben Franklin was a middle school up until 83? I started attending kindergarten in '85. I knew an unused area was dubbed the sixth grade growing up, but was this a 6-8?
Steve ® November 19, 2012 at 02:59 PM
One man's opinion on how the uniforms looked 30 years ago offended you? Little over sensitive if you ask me.
Uncle D November 19, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Carl: A great follow up would be a few interviews with students from classes 79-83. I personally wonder what the atmosphere was like related to things like letter jackets. This could be very interesting!
Jann November 19, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Yes Steve based on Mr. Woosencrafts past position in administration and the fact that a Falls street was renamed after him I think he should have more respect than that.
Carl Engelking November 19, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Thanks Uncle D - I might have to do that.
Steve ® November 20, 2012 at 01:26 AM
But they were ugly. Respect for who my parents? Gosh I hope they would care less.
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) November 20, 2012 at 02:22 AM
As someone who was a student while he was principal, he can call the colors and anything else ugly and I'd back him.
Jann November 20, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Yes Steve old people like me and your parents do deserve his respect. His choice of words was not very tasteful.
Meh... July 09, 2013 at 02:33 AM
The colors are great, no other school that I know of in the state has those colors. The tragedy is the loss of the Indian logo. The new logo is boring and a big "F" for failure. Bring back the old logo!
Steve ® July 09, 2013 at 10:48 AM
Pussy liberals took it away
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) July 11, 2013 at 06:26 PM
The Wisconsin "Indians" had no problem with our once wonderful logo. To be virtuous though, the perpetually offended libtards gave us the effing F any ways. All alumni should burn their varsity jackets over such rubbish.

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