By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer
One thing is for sure, the 111th Baylor Homecoming will be happening this year. The capacity in which events will occur, whether that is in-person, online, or hybrid, is still up in the air.
Homecoming is planned for the weekend of Oct. 16-17, with the football game against Oklahoma State that Saturday.
Ingram senior Bailey Havis, Homecoming chairperson, and Frisco senior Ashley Madden, parade chairperson, said the final plan for the weekend is tentative until Baylor administration and the city of Waco give their approval. However, there will be an online component of events throughout the week, whether the in-person plan is approved or not.
Havis said Homecoming will be happening this year for everyone.
“That is something we are very confident in, the Baylor family, meaning more than just Baylor students, will be able to experience it, even if no one other than students are allowed to be here,” Havis said.
Since school went online for the rest of the spring 2020 semester, a plan that was completely in-person, a plan that was hybrid, and a worst-case scenario online plan have been put together. Now, pieces of all three plans have been thrown around.
The only guarantee is that the parade will be Friday night this year, as opposed to Saturday morning when it is usually held before the game.
Float participants have gone ahead with construction after all themes and float-building sites were approved Tuesday. Some groups have changed their class to decrease spending and eliminate elaborate designs that take more time. Several groups have dropped out with Homecoming only four and half weeks away, compared to the usual eight weeks groups take to build.
Madden said even before the pandemic, the parade was going to look different. The city of Waco had suggested with all the construction, the traditional route downtown would have to be rerouted, something that hasn’t been done in years.
“Parade will very much not look like the traditional parade,” Madden said. “I think there is no chance of a traditional walking route, whether it is stationary or a miniature parade around campus, we don’t know what that will look like exactly, but there definitely won’t be a downtown path as we’ve had in the past.”
Aside from floats, all they know is that the format of the parade needs to maintain social distancing guidelines. Madden said the setting of the parade will determine how many other entries they can include.
“If it is all online, we are trying to work through some alternatives for students and alumni. Maybe a mini float, sending in pictures, making floats out of their cars, something along those lines,” Madden said.
In the face of the pandemic — and the uncertainty of it — Havis said they have a motto for their three most important goals for any plan this year.
“Recognize, highlight and encourage; how will this recognize current Baylor students, how will we be able to highlight former students and how will we encourage everyone during this difficult time,” Havis said.
Both committee members agreed the circumstances have taught them it is really about perspective.
“I’ve been to every Homecoming parade since I was born. I’ve even been in a couple,” Madden said. “When I got the opportunity to be parade chairman, I was super excited because it was something I grew up with and look forward to every year. I finally got here and it was a matter of perspective. When I heard things changing, I was so upset. I was mad. I didn’t want it to be me … Now, looking at it, I’m really excited about the challenge and opportunity to find new ways to honor the tradition.”
Havis said she has an appreciation for Baylor holding off on declaring a solid plan, in hopes a solution will be agreed on with some in-person events and a Homecoming.
“Solid plans, no, but I have a solid appreciation for them not having solid plans,” Havis said.