By Emma Weidmann | Intern
Baylor annually hosts the oldest and largest collegiate homecoming parade in the country, where each year Baylor’s Greek organizations work tirelessly to represent their chapter and uphold Baylor tradition. Floats first appeared in a homecoming parade in 1915 and have become a staple in student life ever since.
Round Rock senior Rylie York, president of Chi Omega at Baylor, said homecoming is a tradition that is taken extremely seriously, especially by Chi Omega, as the defending grand champions.
“Homecoming at Baylor is like an Olympic sport,” York said.
Float building begins in the spring, when the sorority members decide the theme for that coming fall. The themes, as well as the aesthetics and crowd appeal, hold a lot of weight when the floats are judged before the parade.
Once school begins, it’s all hands on deck from August to October. In its entirety, it takes about six months for a chapter of nearly 300 girls to complete the float.
“It’s a long process, and we have had girls out at the float site every single day,” York said. “We are paired with Sigma Chi this year, so that has been a huge blessing.”
The two organizations have been partnered in float making for a few years — an ongoing relationship that York said is still so exciting and a rewarding experience to have together.
Allen junior Anna Stephan, Kappa Alpha Theta’s head float chair, said this year Theta is paired with Pi Kappa Chi.
The fraternity helped with building and construction, while Thetas lended their eyes for detail towards paint colors, design and “pomping the skirt,” which is putting tissue paper through chicken wire, Stephan said.
The making of the float is equally a logistic challenge as it is a creative one. York said the hardest aspect is time management.
“The chairs have been doing such a good job organizing what girls are out there and when, and what they’re getting done on certain weeks,” York said.
Stephan said it is important to complete deadlines and adhere to regulations. Setting out to execute the plan and bring the vision to life is one of the biggest obstacles.
“We have had a lot of late nights out there,” Stephan said. “The toughest part is just finishing in time for homecoming.”
Despite the toil and the effort put in, one of the most essential aspects of the floats is the tradition and the legacy that they represent.
York said she reminisces on watching the floats from the sidewalk, as a child raised in a Baylor household. These are some of her earliest memories and she said getting to be involved in creating a float is an important part of her life. For students like her and for those just joining the Baylor family, the homecoming floats are a way to connect with the deep sense of belonging and community on campus.
“That is why we do what we do and continue to show up every year,” York said. “We just want to uphold that Baylor tradition that people in chapters have done in the past.”