Homecoming parade creates sense of community

Alex Lomicka

Kent State Homecoming traditions tie alumni and students together, uniting the Kent Community. New, old, blue and gold — all sorts of people stepped out for the parade just as they do every year.

Kent community members lined the streets to watch the parade start at 11 a.m.

Pete Mahoney, special coordinator in the Center for Student Involvement, who organized this year’s parade, said that Homecoming is a time of celebration.

“The greatest thing about the parade are the students, to see them be a part of it. I realize without these students I wouldn’t have a job.” Mahoney said. “Seeing the whole university come out and get behind the blue and gold and show their pride is the best part to me.”

Mahoney said that more than 1,500 students and community members registered to walk in the parade this year.

Taylor Hoff, ROTC cadet and sophomore public health major, said she loves being involved with the parade each year.

“ROTC’s color guard is a great way to show the program’s respect for those who serve as well as veterans,” Hoff said.

Many organizations chose to march in the parade, including the Kent State Greek community, Kent Interhall Council, the Marching Golden Flashes, Kent Roosevelt High School and other community members, such as members of the fire department.

Mahoney said this year’s parade featured more floats than previous years’ parades.

Charlie Thomas, Kent State alum and Ray’s Place owner, was elected the parade’s Grand Marshal this year.

“There was a nomination for Charlie and with him being a Kent State graduate, deciding the grand marshal this year was simple,” Mahoney said. “He offers a lot of scholarships from Ray’s. He’s a great community leader. He’s a great friend to the university and such a great man.”

Mahoney said that the parade featured some new elements, including a horse-drawn carriage and a carriage for last year’s Homecoming king and queen.

Sarah Kocon, junior middle childhood education major, said that this was her first year participating in the parade.

“I was on a float for with my sorority,” Kocon said. “It was crazy and a lot of fun to be welcomed to the community that way. Being a new member of Phi Mu, I didn’t know what to expect, but a lot of the Greek community around us was chanting and getting really excited so it was a lot of fun.”

Mahoney said the interaction between students and alumni is one of the elements that make the parade a success.

“Alumni come back and the students hear success stories,” Mahoney said. “I think it is motivation for the students that come here. Kent has a lot of success stories. People have achieved some fantastic things and should be proud of that.”

Contact Alex Lomicka at [email protected].