Column: The best homecoming parade floats through the decades

Pi Kappa Alpha's parade float in 1980 gets an honorable mention | Roundup File Photo

By Kalena Reynolds | Reporter

In 1915, the first floats appeared in the Baylor Homecoming parade and have been an iconic part of the Baylor tradition throughout the years. Baylor is known for having the oldest and largest homecoming parade, and these floats are a representation of the effort and intentionality participating organizations put into their creation.

For an organization to enter a float in the homecoming parade, it must be approved in two categories: theme and initial risk management. Once approved, all organizations are given specifications they must meet when building their float.

Organizations will spend months creating floats to enter in the parade and often go great lengths to ensure their float idea is original by keeping their ideas a secret. The floats are then judged based on a number of categories, including title and theme, proportions, animation and special effects, craftsmanship, public appeal and ingenuity.

Throughout the years, the parade has featured horse-drawn carriages, bands, student and civic organizations, dignitaries and more. During the parade, shops and restaurants located on the route of the parade will decorate their storefronts to join the celebration.

Each float featured on this list has unique elements that have been remembered throughout history and encapsulate the warm memory of the Baylor Homecoming parade. Counting down, here are some picks for the best floats to follow the route across Waco in the homecoming parade.

5. Kappa Omega Tau, 2004

Kappa Omega Tau&squot;s Walt Disney "Pinnochio" themed float in 2004, winning the the Judge&squot;s Award. | Roundup File Photo
Kappa Omega Tau's Walt Disney "Pinnochio" themed float in 2004, winning the the Judge's Award. Roundup File Photo

This Pinocchio-inspired float takes fifth place for its unique take on the classic Disney movie to create an opposing image for Texas Tech. This float has all the necessary little things, such as the subtle wood logs and the bronze whale tooth. Kappa Omega Tau did not short on the details or innovation for this float. While the float is a recreation, it’s good enough to be identified from miles away. The unique take on football opposition makes the float special, the colors are infinite and the life-size Pinocchio puts the float over the top.

4. Kappa Kappa Gamma and Delta Tau Delta, 2004

Kappa Kappa Gamma and Delta Tau Delta&squot;s "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" inspired float in 2004. | Roundup File photo
Kappa Kappa Gamma and Delta Tau Delta's "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" inspired float in 2004. Roundup File photo

This wild ride of a float is not only captivating for its incredible reenactment of “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” but also for its fantastic color scheme and artistry. This float is detailed, from the vivid flowers to the identical torches on either side of the rocks. The sentimental theme of this float lives on through the iconic logo and Indiana Jones impersonator on top of the float. This float makes an impact with the swinging bridge steps, which are not only realistic but also stable enough to hold a person.

3. Alpha Omega, 1948

Alpha Omega float 1948 | Roundup File Photo
Alpha Omega float 1948 Roundup File Photo

In 1948, Baylor played Texas A&M for the homecoming football game in the municipal stadium — Baylor football was part of the Southwest Conference at the time. W.R. White was the first Baylor president to start the long-standing tradition of presidents leading the parade, and every president since has led the parade at least once. This hatbox-inspired float is not only ginormous but also has hidden wheels, making it look like an art piece and a float at the same time.

2. Kappa Omega Tau, 1968

KOT's winning float of 1968. | Roundup File Photo
KOT's winning float of 1968. Roundup File Photo

This steamboat-inspired float inspires elements of music, arts and culture. The iconic early 1900s boater hats the band is wearing showcase the nostalgia behind the float, and the woman traveler on top makes for a float of innovation and historical inspiration. The unique architecture and detail put into this float make it second on the list, though it won first in the float competition that year. While it’s clear the float was well thought out, it’s also enjoyable to look at and encapsulates the Baylor Homecoming parade float style. The gorgeous imagery and colors used in the float bring it together to land a spot as second on the list.

1. Delta Alpha Pi, 1954

Delta Alpha Pi parade float of 1954 | Roundup File Photo
Delta Alpha Pi parade float of 1954 Roundup File Photo

This queen of hearts’ float takes the crowning glory for best float through the decades. The year was 1954, and the chess pieces featured on the float were shaped as opposing conference mascots. This photo was taken a few blocks from where a disastrous F5 tornado hit on May 11 of the previous year. Baylor played TCU at that year’s homecoming and won 25-7. The design of this float, combined with the concept, makes it stand out. The unique idea of incorporating opposing teams as chess pieces creates a symbolic meaning behind the float and a beautiful design.