Homecoming parade returns after an absence of five years from festivities

Jen Yokley

After a five-year absence from Kent State Homecoming festivities, the community-wide parade is back by popular demand.

This year’s Homecoming parade will begin at 10 a.m. tomorrow on Midway Drive and run through downtown Kent, eventually ending on Franklin Street. This year’s theme, “Salute to Service,” will honor veterans as well as those still serving in the forces.

In 2003, the Homecoming committee decided to remove the parade from its event lineup. Issues such as budgeting and a decline in community interest contributed to the eventual termination, but Greg Jarvie, dean of students and parade co-chair, said the final decision was made when inappropriate behavior was reported.

“There were some drunken spectators that were involved, and we had gotten reports that there was inappropriate language being used.” Jarvie said. “There were even a few people that had thrown candy back at the parade members.”

And just like that, the parade was cut.

Although the behavioral issues were resolved and there wasn’t such a strain on the budget, the community was still unhappy.

“Over that time, we had gotten a tremendous outcry of ‘Bring the parade back,'” Jarvie said. “The community has always enjoyed it over the years, and we always get a great crowd there. Students, faculty and staff all have an interest in seeing the parade back.”

With a supportive community behind the parade, the Homecoming committee began its search for sponsors and focused on creating a more polished look.

Jarvie said that thanks to a new sponsor, units such as the 2008 Homecoming Court and members of the armed services will be on upgraded, professionally done floats.

Nearly 70 other organizations and groups, such as fraternities and sororities, residence halls, community agencies and elected officials will be on floats or carrying banners through the parade. Floats will be judged by a group of community members and alumni, and the winners will receive a trophy and a cash prize.

A hospitality tent will be set up at the Williamson Alumni Center for alumni to get breakfast and a front-row seat.

Students interested in helping with the parade are encouraged to contact the Alumni Association at 330-672-5368 (KENT) or [email protected].

Contact alumni affairs reporter Jenn Yokley at [email protected].