Students anticipate Homecoming Parade

For decades, students and the rest of the Champaign-Urbana community have been enjoying the University’s annual Homecoming Parade.

This year, the parade will run Friday from 6 to 7 p.m. It will begin at Sixth Street and Taft Drive in Champaign and travel throughout campus town. The parade will turn south on Mathews Avenue in Urbana and end at the Quad.

“A parade of some sort has been a part of Homecoming since the first Homecoming in 1910, although I could not vouch that it was held every year,” said Bea Pavia, managing editor of Illinois Alumni Magazine in an e-mail interview. “I do not know the ‘reason’ it was started except that people through the ages seem to love a parade!”

Through the decades, the Homecoming Parade has experienced its share of changes. One of the biggest changes is that there aren’t as many floats in the parade as before, said Jillian Kechel, United Greek Council advisor.

Also, in the past, the only prize given in the parade was for the best decorated float. However, the competition has been expanded to include prizes for best float, best decorated vehicle and best walking group, said Luke Sullivan, co-chair of the Homecoming Parade Planning Committee. This encourages more people to take part in the event.

So far, there have been over 30 floats and walking decorated vehicle entries as well as 70 total entries for the event, Kechel said. Students were able to register for the parade at illinigreeks.com. The parade will also include a performance by the Marching Illini as well as appearances by various politicians, VIPS, which include the Homecoming Court and Illini Comeback Guests, and President Michael Hogan, Vice Chancellor Easter and many more.

“We’re hoping that a lot of the community comes out,” Kechel said. “Greeks Support Homecoming has been doing a lot of outreach to get more people involved in the parade as well,” she said.

To help plan the event, students were able to apply to become a part of the Homecoming Parade Planning Committee.

“We started planning right at the end of last semester,” Sullivan said.

Planning consisted of dividing the students into four groups, including the Prepared Reception Committee, Public Relations, Procedures and the Parade Entries Committee. The group meets once a week to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day of the parade, he said.

Students on the planning committee, such as Will Jennings, senior in ACES, have found the hard work involved in planning such an event rewarding.

“Planning is always really organized. The co-chairs keep everyone on track and make sure everything is getting done. We’re expecting a big turnout this year,” he said.

With the changes and hard work the planning committee has put into the parade, the only thing left to do is enjoy the tradition.