Wacoans support Baylor, engage in parade

The Thompsons and fellow mini-Live Oak Falcons cheer on the winning Class A float outside their school. Lizzie Thomas | Staff Writer Photo credit: Elisabeth Thomas

By Lizzie Thomas | Staff Writer

The relationship between Baylor and Waco is demonstrated when Waco supports Baylor Homecoming and when Waco is represented in the Baylor Homecoming Parade.

Though homecoming traditions — including the parade — date back to 1909, floats were only introduced in 1915, according to Baylor records. By the 60s, almost every float carried a slogan taunting the opposing team. Now, floats are one of the attractions of the weekend, showcasing everything from elaborate themed competition floats to horses for the equestrian team or pedal tours for local businesses to home-made signs for dance companies.

The float tradition has lived on, with many organizations on campus contributing a float that they have built from scratch. Mayor Kyle Deaver has lived in Waco his entire life and went to Baylor for undergrad and law school. He has been a part of the homecoming Parade for two years and participated this year as well.

“I think most people in Waco appreciate Baylor and everything it does for the community,” Deaver said. “It’s natural for people to come out to the parade. I think Baylor seeks out participation for the parade.”

Deaver pointed out that Baylor welcomes Waco ISD school bands and other representatives of the indirect Baylor family.

Jessica Thompson is on the Parent Council at Live Oak Classical School on 5th Street. She helped facilitate members of that community gathering at a certain point on the street to watch the parade together and allowed the kids to collect candy with their friends.

“[This is] part of the community builders aspect of the parent council,” Thompson said. “This is a fun activity and Live Oak is right downtown in the middle of it, so we can all gather and watch the parade together and get to know one another.”

Thompson herself is a Baylor alumna, but she said she appreciates the uniqueness of the parade putting all of Waco on display.

“With the parade, Baylor allows representation of Waco with different schools getting involved and different parts of the community, so I think it’s a fun event that draws all of Waco in,” Thompson said.

Clayton Thompson, her husband and director of creative services at Baylor, explained what he observed might be the reason the parade pulls Waco and Baylor together in a much more visual way than usual. According to him, the parade physically and symbolically links the already intertwined ecosystems of Baylor and Waco.

“Homecoming gets a little deeper into the community with the parade and the bonfire and just all the activities,” Thompson said.

Live Oak has had a float in the past, along with other schools, but did not participate this year. Instead, the Live Oak community decided to cheer on the rest.