By Julia Eckardt
This year almost 100 student and community organizations will participate in the Baylor Homecoming Parade.
The parade begins at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and starts at Eighth Street and Austin Avenue. From there it will turn right on Fifth Street and end at the Fifth Street circle.
The Baylor Homecoming Parade is the oldest and largest homecoming parade in the country. It has been a momentous occasion for the university since 1909.
Such a large production requires about a year’s worth of planning. Arlington senior and parade chairman Kacie Evans said preparations began right after last year’s homecoming.
Despite its early start time, students not participating make it a point to get out of bed after a late night at the annual Homecoming Bonfire to watch the floats go by.
“I set eight alarms every year just to be sure I don’t miss it,” Woodbury, Minn. senior Kelsey Mazzon said. “It’s my favorite Baylor tradition because it represents our spirit to the community so well.”
This will be the first year YoungLife, a national youth ministry based out of college campuses, will participate in the parade.
Waco’s YoungLife, unofficially based at Baylor, ministers to nine local middle and high schools. The group recently applied for a YoungLife College charter, which will make them an official Baylor student organization, and is waiting for that to be finalized.
Ministry Director Sharon Smith believes their charter will be approved by the spring semester.
Even though YoungLife is not yet an official student organization, the group wanted to participate in the parade this year as a way to get some of their high school members involved.
“It’s a way to just hang out with them and be a part of the parade,” Smith said. “We have alumni that were leaders and are going to be in town. We’ve invited them to join with us too.”
Rather than have a float, they will wear costumes, hold their official banners and toss candy.
“Part of our mission is humor, and we try to get kids laughing,” Smith said.
Of the nearly 100 organizations participating, 11 have entered into the float competition. Each organization spent months planning and building their floats, even working the day before the parade to get everything ready.
Some organizations spend an average of 40 hours a week constructing the floats.
“We start the previous spring semester with planning among the float chairs then have the theme reveal next Fall,” Delta Delta Delta member Sarah Czerwinski said. “We work up until the morning of the parade.”