As in years past, though, upperclassmen again were able to feed 14-year-old freshmen liquor, pelt them with eggs and swat them with wooden paddles before the Bulldogs' 2013 homecoming game. This time - perhaps for the first time - the school suspended several upperclassmen accused of participating in the hazing.
One of 10 students suspended following the Sept. 27 incident has since sued the district. Through that now-federal lawsuit, the boy and his parents fault Seattle Public Schools for the 11-day suspension.
While that student's parents described the incident as light-hearted "froshing," Garfield administrators said in prior years saw a dangerously intoxicated 14-year-old student left unconscious at a Seattle park. Efforts to crack down on the decades-old practice, though, appear to have been unsuccessful so far.
Several drunk freshmen were stopped at Memorial Stadium after arriving at Garfield's homecoming football game. Questioned by school staff and police, the students described being spanked with paddles and plied with alcohol during a hazing party earlier in the day at a Capitol Hill park.
The freshmen identified several upperclassmen as being involved in the hazing, prompting school staff to temporarily expel 10 students on Oct. 4. An 11th expelled student had been misidentified by school staff and was reinstated hours after the expulsion order.
Records filed in U.S. District Court shed more light on the Sept. 27 incident that led to that disciplinary action.
Garfield staff investigating the incident came to believe upperclassmen and freshmen first went to Seward Park neighborhood home, where students drank before heading to Washington Park Arboretum.
As many as 150 students gathered at the arboretum, where several freshmen were paddled by older Garfield students. District investigators reports indicate the paddled students were clothed during the incident.
The students - some obviously drunk - then went to Memorial Stadium, where school staff discovered their inebriation. Administrators began a more serious investigation after allegations of hazing surfaced.
During an administrative hearing on one boy's suspension, Assistant Principal Brad Westering said students' accounts of the incident varied widely. Many of the more salacious claims publicized immediately after the incident proved false - freshmen who initially claimed they were "corralled into cars" later admitted they went to the party on their own - while some students were caught lying about their involvement.
Westering went on to explain that hazing has been an unwelcome piece of homecoming Friday at Garfield for 40 years.
"They've had some real serious hazing incidents, and they've never one time had people come forward and give names," the assistant principal said, according to a transcript of the Oct. 16 hearing.
"A couple of years ago somebody was left, really, almost for dead, totally drunk out of his mind under a tree down at the arboretum. The parents of that student, (who) had to be rushed to emergency room, didn't want to submit any inquiry or anything else."
According to the assistant principal's account, the boy who has since sued the school district said he was hazed as a freshman and enjoyed the experience.
That boy's father described hazing as a "tradition" at Garfield.
"Since we've had two other children attend Garfield before (our son), we were aware of the term froshing and we learned that (his) older siblings had participated in some of these events, which they both tell us they thoroughly enjoyed," the boy's father said during the hearing.
"Froshing" at Garfield, he continued, "is perceived by many students and alumni as a special case that stands apart from other schools, not at all a hazing as that term is defined in district policy, but a fun even that many students feel serves to welcome the new freshmen to the Garfield community."
The three freshmen caught under the influence of alcohol at the homecoming game cast the hazing in a different light.
Students gathered at a house party at a Seward Park home, where freshmen were prompted to shoot liquor during a drinking game. The freshmen were then blindfolded and driven to the arboretum, where other students were drinking and smoking marijuana.
There, they were paddled by upperclassmen for failing to follow instructions and losing drinking games at the house party. One boy reported the wooden paddle was broken on one freshman's backside after the spankings got "out of control."
One boy said he and his friends tried to leave the arboretum gathering but couldn't because their belongings were locked in an upperclassmen's van. When they asked for their belongings, they were pelted with eggs and sprayed with hot sauce.
Another student finally helped them get their belongings and walked them to a bus stop; by then, one of the 14-year-old boys was so drunk he couldn't walk or stand on his own. Police broke up the party shortly thereafter.
Before filing the lawsuit, parents of the suspended teen accused the district of posturing by issuing the emergency expulsion order a week after the incident. They contend their son's punishment was in part a response to media coverage of the hazing incident.
Westering acknowledged a parent "went rogue on us and started talking to the media," and created what he called a "really explosive" situation. He went on to claim the expulsions were delayed because Garfield administrators were told to wait while Seattle police officers investigated the incident.
Through the lawsuit, the boy's parents have claimed their son shouldn't have been initially expelled or subsequently suspended. They claim Garfield administrators booted their son and the other children to make an example out of them, and in response to negative coverage in the media.
A hearing officer agreed with the district, finding that the emergency expulsion was appropriate. He reduced the length of the student's 20-day suspension to 11 days, while also baring the student from attending prom.
The boy's parents appealed the hearing officer's decision within the district before suing in King County Superior Court, requesting payment for the harm they claim has come to their child due to his suspension.
That lawsuit has now migrated to federal court at the district's request. The district has denied any wrongdoing.