Taylor High School crowns last homecoming queen on historic field

TAYLOR, Texas (KXAN) -- It's a historic night out at what fans call "Duck Pond." Friday night marked the last homecoming game on Taylor High School's Memorial Field, purchased more than 100 years ago, before the Ducks make their move to a new football stadium.

KXAN took a step back in time with Taylor's first homecoming queen before she crowned the 2017 queen on the same field -- for the last time. We met her inside the "Duck Room." Think of it as a museum to preserve all of the memorabilia that makes the Taylor High School Ducks special.

Treasures include a drawing of a Donald Duck-style duck, signed by Walt Disney himself; the football used in the first game the Ducks played under lights, in 1933; And items from football players like Dicky Moegel, who went on to play for the NFL.

"We thought he was real cute!" Nancy Pfluger Payne said, looking at a picture.

Spend a few minutes inside and you'll quickly realize it's the people who make the space special.

"That's me. Many years back," Payne said, pointing to a picture of herself. She was crowned Taylor's first homecoming queen 64 years ago. Her yearbook describes her as the "bouncy blonde" known for her Ducks and for her love of chocolate malts.

"It feels like yesterday. There are things I can't remember details on but still the thrill -- high school was just a really important time," Payne said. It's a time she makes a point to stay connected to. "I am religious about being back for homecoming every year. Really, really fun. It brings the whole school together."

Taylor is a town where generations have been brought together under the Friday night lights.

"I can't even imagine not having that football field. It's just been a center of activity for Taylor," Payne said. "We're not sure that we're ready to have it moved away."

The final homecoming, a moment to remember, old field or new, it's the people who give life to the school's saying: "Once a Duck, always a Duck."

The new football stadium is currently under construction behind the high school, expected to be completed in December. As of right now, there are no set plans for the old field.

Voters approved the new stadium during the 2015 bond election, in a very close vote. It won with 52 percent of the vote, but when you factor in the turnout, that came out to just 67 votes. The item included $21 million in upgrades, with the bulk -- $12 million -- going to the new football stadium and track, and a field house at Taylor High School.

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