Homecoming Parade Pro Tips
The end of Homecoming Week brings the highlight of the entire event: the Homecoming Parade. The parade begins at 6 p.m. and encompasses approximately two miles. Here are some tips from a professional parade goer to maximize your Homecoming Parade experience:
- Come early. I know this one seems obvious, but with the largest alumni base in the country, it is nearly impossible to arrive as the parade starts and secure a decent view. The homecoming organizers have identified 9 a.m. as a time that you can secure your spot along the parade route. While this seems a bit excessive, it is worth getting a spot an hour or two ahead of time so you can get the best views (not to mention all the free stuff that is bound to be tossed your way in the front row).
- Like any smart girl who goes to a fraternity has a nice “fracket” (a cheap jacket that you don’t care about losing), every experienced parade goer has a shitty folding chair that they don’t care about losing. If you want the best spot, set up your chair in the morning or early afternoon and go about your business. Hopefully, when you come back at parade time, your chair is still there and you can maneuver your way back up to the front row past all the plebeians who weren’t as prepared as you.
- If you don’t feel like showing up early and all of your folding chairs are made of gold, you still have options. The downtown area and areas directly surrounding dorms will definitely be the most crowded. The parade begins at the IM building, and there is sure to be plenty of room up that way (not to mention, all the floats will be well stocked with free candy that early in the route). The sidewalks by the swimming pool along Bigler Road are also a good option to avoid the crowds.
- Dress appropriately. Like most of this week, it is supposed to rain throughout parts the day. Nothing can spoil a parade-goer’s morale like a wet pair of socks. A little liquid warmth never hurt anyone, either.
- Bring a bag for all your free SWAG. Nothing screams parade rookie than a guy trying to stuff his pockets with Tootsie Rolls and keychains. Try to set up shop away from little kids so you don’t seem like an asshole when the inevitable scurry for free stuff ensues. If there are no kids around, and you’re the only one motioning for free stuff, what choice will the people in the parade have but to hook you up? Also, being female never hurts, so if you aren’t one, make sure to bring a friend along to maximize your chances of bringing home that coveted UPUA glow-in-the-dark pen (too soon?) or a College Republicans t-shirt.
- Sing the songs. The Blue Band puts in countless hours to prepare a great show for us. The least we can do is take a few minutes to know the words to our own fight songs. Even if you don’t know the words, at least pretend you do. It will make the alumni happy.
- Bring a camera. I am not a big picture guy, but one of my biggest homecoming regrets stems from my freshman year. Several of my friends had pledged fraternities. Naturally, these pledges are the ones who get the privilege of riding on the floats during the parade. While the memory is still fresh in my mind, I will forever regret not being able to take pictures of my friends dressed as Disney Princesses or Tinker Bell (although I’m sure they didn’t mind).
- Be sure to look for the THON float. The THON Overall Committee will be revealing the 2012 THON theme during the parade.
- If you live off campus, make sure to walk to the parade route. Roads will be closed starting at 5:30 p.m., there will be no parking allowed on the street, and most campus lots will be closed.
If you follow these tips, you will be sure to make the most out of your Homecoming Parade experience. It is the biggest of its kind in the country, so make sure to soak it all in! If you can’t make it out to the parade, the Homecoming Committee will be doing a live webcast which is worth checking out if you need some procrastination material while putting the finishing touches on that midterm paper. After the parade, head over to Rec Hall for the Homecoming Pep Rally where they will announce the King and Queen, and to take part in the guarding the Lion Shrine tradition.