Highlights from Homecoming: Parade leads the way into celebratory weekend

The+Marching+Illini+Alumni+band+perform+at+the+start+of+the+Homecoming+Parade+on+Friday.+

Sydney Laput

The Marching Illini Alumni band perform at the start of the Homecoming Parade on Friday.

By Alyssa Shih, Contributing Writer

On Friday evening, students, professors, alumni and community members alike crowded around Memorial Stadium to celebrate the University’s 112th Homecoming and watch the Homecoming Parade.

Starting at the corner of Fourth and Kirby streets, the parade was organized by the University of Illinois Alumni Association. The parade was led by this year’s parade Grand Marshall, Gene Honda.

Honda, best known as the public address announcer for the Chicago White Sox, is being honored with the Lou Liay Spirit Award. Walking behind him were numerous campus and community groups.

After a week of Homecoming events, the parade was an opportunity to deck out in all orange and blue regardless of age or grade. The Air Force ROTC opened the parade with Honda, followed by the University of Illinois Alumni Band.

Morgan Sanaghan, freshman in AHS, was excited to see what was in store.

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    “I’m really looking forward to seeing what else is going to be here,” Sanaghan said. “Seeing all the alumni has been really cute, too.”

    Eliza Sullivan, freshman in LAS, reflected on seeing the alumni on campus.

    “It’s nice that they have such pride in the university that they went to that they came back to enjoy it all,” Sullivan said. “I only have one distant family member that came here so the Illinois pride is really cool.”

    As the Alumni Marching Band passed by, groups like the Illini Union Board and Illini N Motion Dance Team threw candy out to parade-goers. It could have been Halloween with the amount of candy flying through the air.

    For upperclassmen, the parade was a chance to appreciate getting together. Emma Morano, junior in Engineering, said the Homecoming Parade was a welcomed change in pace from the previous years dampened by COVID-19.

    “I like seeing everyone come together,” Morano said. “During COVID there weren’t this many people out, so it’s just nice to see the community.”

    There were plenty of displays of Illinois pride in the parade. One float passed by featuring a Golden Minnesota Gopher being whacked by a mallet, referencing the Homecoming football game the Illini went on to win 26-14.

    For many, the highlight of the night was the Marching Illini. Even without the candy, people of all ages stood and watched as the Marching Illini passed by.

    As the parade closed out, the excitement didn’t wane. Much of the crowd followed the band into Memorial Stadium to continue the celebration at the WITH I Campaign Close Event. The booming music and chattering could be heard far away from the stadium.

    Even as the sun set, parade-goers who weren’t going to the stadium walked away warm from the thrill and community of Homecoming season. Rebekka Price, public engagement director for the School of Music said the Homecoming Parade created the perfect atmosphere.

    “I just love seeing the excitement around the campus and the University,” Price said. “It’s great to see everyone rallying around a common purpose. It’s nice to see community back on campus.”

     

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