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Fraternities “Pomp Up the Volume” on Floats

I was overwhelmed by the sounds of power saws, staple guns and Kid Rock songs on Frat Row last night. No, there wasn’t some kind of weird new hazing going on. Penn State’s homecoming parade was one day away and all of the participating fraternities were putting the finishing touches on their floats. I stopped by to see how their creations were coming along.

I was greeted by a circle of brothers at Theta Delta Chi on East Prospect playing with the house dogs. When I asked where their float was they pointed to a group of busy members, hammering away like Christmas elves. One of the pledges, Zach Hibard, told me that they’ve pulled a few all-nighters since Sunday, but he was excited about the progress they’ve made. The float is designed to look like Lightning McQueen, the zesty red sports car in Disney Pixar’s “Cars.”

Crossing over to Locust Lane, I paid a visit to Sigma Phi Epsilon where the scene wasn’t as busy. An out-of-house brother, Mike Edgar, informed me that the fraternity was more into Greek Sings. “We’re usually number one at Greek Sings,” Edgar said outside of the Mexican villa-esque frat. “You got to be number one at something.” He told me that he and the rest of his SigEp brothers were going to finish up the work they’ve done on the float with their sorority group Alpha Omicron Pi later on in the night. They were going for a Dr.Seuss theme, complete with Cat in the Hat and Red Fish, Blue Fish decorations.

Alpha Chi Rho’s kitchen door was propped open and I could smell a meatloaf dinner cooking inside. I decided to see if they had room for one more at the table. Remembering my assignment, I asked to see what they were showing in the Homecoming parade. I was lead into the living room by a few brothers where I was greeted by an 8-foot green ogre. They informed me that their theme was the Dreamworks movie “Shrek” and they already had constructed a castle under a tarp in their front yard. They plan on adding other characters like Dragon, Gingerbread Man, Puss ‘n Boots and a larger than life Donkey. If they can somehow get Eddie Murphy to record a “We Are” chant, they’ll take the show for sure.

Pi Lambda Phi was hard at work in their backyard under the protection of an army of tarps. The crew was hammering away, jamming classic rock songs and making little fish out of pompom ribbons when I awkwardly stumbled in through their broken fence. They’re going for a Little Mermaid theme, which totally fits their masculine vibes. One of the brothers, Micheal Giergio, took time out from sawing PVC pipes to tell me how much work the brothers of Pi Lambda Phi and their sorority group Sigma Sigma Sigma were putting into this year’s float. “I’ve pretty much been up ’til 6:00 a.m. every night since Sunday,” he said in a tired and uninterested voice. Someone needs to bring these guys a cup of coffee.

I finally made my way back to campus where I spotted the Schreyer Honors College and Phi Sigma Pi putting the finishing touches on their James Bond themed float outside of Atherton Hall. Matt Steiner, a brother and honors student, told me that the idea of the float was that a Penn State James Bond is going to be fending off a Fighting Illinois villain. In typical Penn State fashion, the Nittany Lion Bond defeats the bad guy from Illinois, while also sweeping a girl off of her defenseless feet. I spoke with the Bond girl, Catherine Begley, to get her take on the scene. “I’m excited,” she said while stitching a pompom into the chicken wire lattice of the float. “I’m hoping I can be a powerful Bond girl, not a damsel in distress.”

This year’s Homecoming parade looks like it will be a great start to an exciting weekend. All of the groups have put a lot of work into their floats and it will really pay off when they can look at their creations driving down College Ave. with pride. The Penn State spirit is alive in each of the floats and I can’t wait to squeeze myself into the crammed parade route and watch all of their manual labor fire up the crowd. I just hope an 8-foot green ogre, some sea creatures and a trippy cat wearing a top hat can inspire Evan Royster to run his heart out on Saturday.

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