Parade floats to face judges' scrutiny todayNov. 12, 1999
By LESLIE BLANK
Hope floats in the hearts of many Baylor students today as they anticipate the biggest collegiate homecoming parade in the nation and pray that their organizations' creative energies and handiwork will earn them the Judges' Choice award.
Today, three judges, all Baylor alumni, will analyze every float and speak with each of the float chairs regarding the building process for each structure.
Color, theme and creativity will also be taken into consideration.
The judges will then 'go into hiding' for two hours while they decide on this year's winning floats.
'It's grueling; they have to get nit-picky about the details,' said Andy McClain, a Hewitt senior and Chamber of Commerce judges' liaison, who will accompany the judges on the float tour.
The 16 floats will then line the streets at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Floats first graced the Baylor parade in 1915 and since then have become an irreplaceable tradition, said Roxanne Wilson, a Chandler, Ariz., junior and the 1998 homecoming parade chair.
This year the parade is expected to be better than ever, with the competition among the various campus organizations having heated up a bit in the past year, said Bradley Simmons, a Dayton senior and Chamber of Commerce member in charge of this year's floats.
'The organizations are learning to keep the same float chairs. That is making the floats better, because after three years of working on them, they know what to do,' Simmons said.
'The spirit of competition is huge, but it's not unhealthy; the floats this year are bigger, more intricate and there are more of them,' McClain said.
James Offen, owner of Valley Decorating Company in Fresno, Calif., supplies each Baylor group its float paper, as well as to all of the major bowl game parades in the country, such as the Rose and Orange bowls.
'He has claimed that Baylor has the best floats of any college parade in America; he said that the creativity [campus groups exhibit] is amazing,' Simmons said.
According to Offen, only Ohio State University's homecoming parade comes close to paralleling that of Baylor, with nearly 90 entries each year.
'But their floats wouldn't even be considered Class B according to our rating system,' Simmons said.
There are three classes into which the floats are divided, according to each group's budget.
Class A has no budget, class B has a budget of $2,000 and class C's budget is $1,300.
This year, Class A includes Kappa Omega Tau, Beta Theta Pi, Kappa Sigma in conjunction with Chi Omega and Phi Delta Theta in conjunction with Delta Delta Delta.
Class B is made up of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Delta Sigma Pi, the Baylor Bears Student Associaton, Delta Tau Delta with Pi Beta Phi, and Sigma Phi Epsilon joined with Kappa Delta.
Finally, Class C includes Kappa Kappa Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, Sigma Chi, Tau Kappa Epsilon in conjunction with Alpha Delta Pi, the Museum Studies Student Association, Alpha Chi Omega, Freshman Class Council and Kappa Alpha Psi.
Simmons has worked closely with all of the participating groups, approving their themes, ordering their float paper and even assisting with the building processes.
In addition, he asks those organizations who are more skilled in the building realm to help those who are struggling.
'All the themes this year are completely different; we've tried to use more Baylor-related themes with the floats,' Simmons said.
Campus organizations are allowed to begin work on their floats on the first day of school.
'These organizations spend lots of money and hours on these floats; it's amazing. Some of these float chairs are very talented,' McClain said.
This has been crunch week for many of the groups, said Jill Wroblewski, a Scottsdale, Ariz. junior and Kappa Kappa Gamma float chair.
'I haven't done anything but float and school,' she said.
Wroblewski also said that she has had to overcome her fear of heights to work on the float, the theme of which is Cinderella.
'We used brilliant colors and took
advantage of metallics in order for it to stand out,' Wroblewski said.
Alpha Delta Pi has joined efforts with Tau Kappa Epsilon in their first year to participate.
'This office has taught me more than any other experience I've ever had; it's taken a lot of different people putting their ideas together,' said Kathryn Maxfield, a Eureka Springs, Ark., senior and the Alpha Delta Pi float chair.
Maxfield said they wanted to divide the labor and finances with another group with which they would enjoy working.
Kappa Omega Tau won the Judges' Award last year for its fanciful Wizard of Oz float.
This award goes to the best float overall.
'I think that a lot of the reason we work well together is that even if we weren't doing this float, we'd still be together . . . we want to honor the floats before us and make the guys that made us float chairs proud of us,' said Matt McClard, a Little Rock, Ark. senior and Kappa Omega Tau float chair.
McClard said the KOTs were unanimous about their theme for this year.
'There are so many things that go into a float; the more colors the better, and we look for characters, and what we can do with them. We ask ourselves if people are going to relate to the theme,' McClard said.
The winners of this year's float competition will be announced tonight at 9 p.m. at the Homecoming bonfire on Fountain Mall.
'I want all of [the floats] to win. I've worked so closely with all of them that I'll be happy for the winners and sad for the losers,' Simmons said. 'However, each of the floats in all of the classes are amazing this year, and any of them could win.'