For those brave enough to line the sidewalks in the chilly, drizzling rain, the annual Homecoming Parade took place early Saturday morning.
With the temperature in the 50s and dreary skies, each of the royal court along with several clubs, fraternities and sororities strolled down Main Street. Circus themed acts such as fire breathers, stilt walkers, jugglers and clowns joined high school bands from Moniteau and nearby Slippery Rock in the march.
“I was really excited that there were so many people in the rain,” Director of Alumni Engagement Kelly Bailey said. “Their enthusiasm, even with the weather, was fantastic. Our rock pride can’t be tamed, even with water. I don’t think it dampened our spirits at all.”
The Homecoming Parade is an event that’s planning begins in February, eight months before the event itself, said Lauren Moran, director of student engagement and leadership.
While Moran has to work with PennDOT to obtain a parade permit and Slippery Rock borough’s chief of police for logistics of road closures, Homecoming Chair Brock Barber was responsible mainly for the planning of the parade. He helped with communicating the event to students and local businesses, such as renting the trucks the Homecoming court rides in from Enterprise.
Moran estimates that over 80 student volunteers took time out of their day to help the parade run smoothly. The Steering Committee also consisted of Assistant Chair Morgan Meyer, Rock Spirit Coordinator Kessa Stydinger, and Royalty Court Coordinator Adriana Sykes, among others.
As with any relatively small college town, there can sometimes be a disconnect between students and the greater community. Each year, the parade, and Homecoming weekend as a whole, bring the two together.
“Sometimes it feels like the university is this bubble that’s inside the community and it’s a weekend where you see the two bridge the gap, and the parade is a major component of that,” Moran said. “It’s a way to really show the community what we’re doing and to show that there are really positive things happening.”
“For many students and alumni, this is their home,” Director of Alumni Engagement Kelly Bailey added. “The alumni come back and see each other and visit their favorite establishments downtown. The fact that it goes right through the center of town sort of shows the connection it brings between university and community.”
Of the whole weekend and what SRU pride means, Moran said, “It’s a sense of community and belonging and it’s being really proud of what the university can offer to students, faculty, staff, and community members. And being excited about this place and calling it home.”
“It’s just a great sense of being part of something bigger than yourself,” Bailey said. “Tradition never graduates and people come back year after year and show the continuity of the vibrant community that we love.”