Behind the scenes of the homecoming parade

For decades, student organizations and Toledo groups have paraded through neighborhoods adjacent to the University of Toledo to celebrate the annual homecoming football game, a tradition dating back to 1973.


In preparation for the event, student groups spend their time creating floats that coordinate with the year’s homecoming theme.


Last Saturday, carnival-themed floats paraded through Toledo’s Old Orchard neighborhood, with Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz as this year’s Grand Marshal.


Approximately 110 different groups participated in this year’s parade, according to Donovan Nichols, assistant dean for Student Involvement and Leadership.


“The entries that are typically in the parade are alumni award winners, affiliate chapters from around the country, deans from all the different colleges, then you’ve got the student floats and then there’s added attractions, which are basically on- and off-campus entities that aren’t necessarily a float or a car, so it is quite the coordination effort,” Nichols said.


The creation of the floats is no walk in the park.


Nathan St. Clair’s Fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, spent an entire week creating a float with all its chapter’s members. The fraternity partnered with the sorority Chi Omega to work on the float together.


The two groups started by electing a homecoming chair who helped oversee the design and logistics of the float. Then, the Monday before the parade, both groups began the construction and decorating phase of the project, which lasted the rest of the week, St. Clair said.


He did say that the hard work definitely paid off and everything went very smoothly.


He cited the rain as a stumbling block.


Jennifer Ortiz, visual arts major and member of Alpha Omicron Pi, also complained about the dreary weather and its effects on their hard work.


With the help of its partnering fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, they went through the process of designing the float, gathering all necessary materials, constructing the float shapes and then pomping the entire float to finish decorating, Ortiz said.


To combat the weather, they kept watchful eyes on the forecast and kept large tarps covering the float leading up to the parade, Ortiz also said.


Grace Garcia, this year’s homecoming queen, was pleased with this year’s parade.


“Blue Key arranged for all top five candidates to all have our own convertibles and cars, so we each had a car and we got to pass out candy. Everyone adapted to the weather really well and it really was just a lot of fun,” Garcia said.    


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