Homecoming floats constructed in half the time as usual

Pi Beta Phi deviated from its original plan for Float to instead highlight its philanthropy. Photo courtesy Pi Beta Phi.

By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer

This year’s Homecoming float participants will be showing their work at McLane Stadium for a pep rally on Friday night where the audience can get an up-close look.

“McLane on Friday night will be the big event, the Homecoming event,” Frisco senior Ashley Madden, parade chairperson, said.

Kappa Alpha Order with Alpha Phi, Phi Kappa Chi with Kappa Alpha Theta and Pi Beta Phi will present their floats for judging on Thursday and will be awarded in front of everyone on Friday.

“It’s kind of like after a normal parade they get parked in front of Tidwell to be able to walk over and look at. That’s the general idea,” Madden said. “We’re hoping to draw more of a crowd this year because they’re more front and center, so people can see the work that has gone into them. There will also be a video shown during the prep rally about the work that went into the floats.”

Madden said groups usually work eight weeks on floats, but this year they only had about four weeks to finish.

“They lost originally two weeks when we came back to school, when no organizations could meet and then they also lost an additional week when Baylor extended that,” Madden said. “And so that was the official build time, but I feel like they lost a lot of time over the summer. In normal years, they submit their themes and their designs in the summer. Then, they get approved, and they can start ordering materials and start on the first day of school, but because everything was so up in the air over the summer, it got pushed back.”

Celina senior Ben Whisman, float coordinator, said his expectations in the beginning also changed over time. There were plans for 13 floats from organization chairs, he said, and only three floats remain now.

Portland, Ore. senior Kate Pitcher, float chair for Pi Beta Phi, said they decided to stick with plans for a float because it has been the only activity chapter members are allowed to do together.

“We felt like it would just be unifying for our organization and fun and to be able to take advantage of that opportunity to see each other in person,” Pitcher said.

No float design rules or requirements have changed except for determining the float class, Whisman said. Floats are organized into classes, depending on how much money each group plans to spend. They are judged by class and a grand champion is awarded across all classes usually. This year is a little different.

“They do not have to designate a class standing until they finalize everything and then go, we spent this much money, so we will be in this class,” Whisman said. “That’s completely fine with me. I think we’re going to have one in each category, but that might change to where they all end up in one class. No matter what, I think all of them are still going to be fantastic because I’m still blown away with the amount of time that they’ve had yet the level that they’ve done.”

Pitcher said they stuck with a simpler theme and promoted their philanthropy this year. In doing so, she said that Pi Beta Phi was able to donate the 2,000 books used in the float display to elementary school kids.

“Originally, we had picked a theme with the fraternity that we paired with, but when they dropped out, we didn’t feel like we had the building capabilities to continue with that theme,” Pitcher said. “And so because it is kind of a weird year with COVID, we decided to make our float theme our philanthropy, which is ‘Read, Lead, Achieve.’ So chapter members actually donated books to our book displays on the float, and the main feature on our float is a giant rainbow made out of books.”

Baylor alumni won’t be able to see these floats in person though. The pep rally was approved as an in-person event, but to meet social distancing guidelines and safety requirements, only students are allowed to attend in person. Up to 1,000 students will be allowed in each event location at McLane: the stadium, alumni tailgate area and student tailgate area, Madden said.

Correction Oct. 19, 2020, 12:30 p.m.:

A previous version of this article referenced a quote given to the Lariat by Pi Beta Phi Float Chair Kate Pitcher saying the sorority would be donating its $3,000 dollar float savings to its philanthropy, but she was mistaken.