A few weeks ago, someone asked me, “What’s the theme for homecoming? I forget.” I’d forgotten, too. I’d seen it on the University website somewhere, but the slogan had since slipped my mind. Yesterday, as I snapped pictures at the grand opening of the ice arena, I saw this slogan everywhere. It was printed across banners, spelled out on signs, typed onto hand-outs and even scripted in frosting across big cookie cakes. It read, “Then, now, always.” Homecoming weekend is over now. The football team has probably seen better days, but I personally could not imagine a greater weekend. My homecoming experience began with the strange fun of riding in the centennial homecoming parade.
I spent Thursday evening with a team of creative Harshman residents and our hall directors, putting the final touches on our homecoming float. By the end of the night, I had managed to splatter paint across my boots, my jacket and my face. I have no talent for painting. Late that night, we finished what we’d set out to accomplish and left our crafty artwork on the loading dock to dry. I came from my last class Friday afternoon and ran, in my ungraceful fashion, toward the dock, where the Harshman float was about to get rolling.
Before this weekend, I’d never ridden in a parade. Every residence hall designed a float for the centennial homecoming parade, as did many campus organizations. thought the “Jerome Rollers” were awfully clever. Our float was a cheerful combination of trucks, trailers, paper mache, costumes and school spirit. I was a “green” tailgater, complete with a birthday hat and a hand-painted sign. I rode in the bed of the truck labeled “now.” I quickly learned, once we began our precession, that it takes balance to stand upright, holding a sign, on a moving surface. Figures, right? I bumped into the unfortunate girl in front of me and stumbled backward into the guys behind me before mastering what I call the art of not falling. No one around me was seriously hurt in the process.
The parade was great fun. Friendly locals stood on their porches or sat on the curbs with their children, catching candy and cheering us on. Cars honked, viewers joined us in singing “Happy Birthday” and orange and brown balloons were released into the air. The festive procession won a lot of smiles. Everywhere I looked, I saw school colors, which was pretty fitting for the first day of October.
The judges rated Harshman’s float “best overall” for a second consecutive year. They must have been impressed by our creativity and spirit. It’s pretty amazing what plywood, art supplies, a couple trucks and some house paint can produce. Of course, the rigorous planning and overwhelming teamwork didn’t hurt. I look forward to future homecomings, but something tells me that the centennial was special. I’ll just have to save my yellow birthday hat as a souvenir.