Baylor Community Braves Chilly Weather To Watch Parade

Nov. 12, 2003

by Marianne May, student writer

Baylor University students, alumni, faculty and staff proved they weren't fair-weather fans Saturday when they braved chilly weather and drizzle to watch Baylor's 94th annual Homecoming parade.

Beginning at 11th Street and Austin Avenue, the parade wound its way through downtown-Waco and onto Baylor's campus, where the majority of more than 10,000 attendees anticipated seeing all 153 entries.

Since its premier in 1909, the parade (which is believed to be the longest of its kind worldwide) has grown from a line of horse-drawn carriages and marching bands to a showcase of student organizations, elaborate floats, flashy sports cars and even a wedding proposal.

"Saturday was probably the most surreal day of my life," said Jason James, a Sherman senior who proposed to his girlfriend during the middle of the parade.

James and Baylor alumna Kassidy Helms met in Student Foundation on a student recruitment trip last year, and because participating in the parade is a Student Foundation tradition, the setting was a perfect place for James to pop the question.

James and the rest of Student Foundation rode their bicycles in the parade, and when the parade procession stopped directly in front of Burleson statue, where Helms and her parents stood watching the parade, James took his opportunity.

He dropped his bicycle and led Helms into the middle of the street. Then he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him.

"It was a really special moment," he said. "It was so much better than I could have hoped for. When we come back for Homecoming in the future, we'll eternally be remembered as the couple who got engaged during the parade."

Apart from the proposal, parade attendees also were impressed with the number of floats entered this year. With 16 entries, almost twice as many as last year, the judges had their work cut out for them in selecting the best entries.

The Class A award went to Delta Tau Delta and Kappa Kappa Gamma for their "Indiana Jones and the Raiders are Doomed" float, which featured a live Indiana Jones

character narrowly missing a continually rolling boulder.

Kappa Omega Tau won the Judge's Award with a Pinnochio theme. The familiar scenes from the beloved Disney film, including a massive whale with its mouth open wide, earned KOT more than just the judges' compliments.

"The alumni really enjoyed it," said Dan Sullivan, a co-chair for KOT's float this year. "They said it was one of the best floats they'd seen."

For the first time, Chamber awarded the Judge's Pick winner with a trophy. Sullivan said that the pride of winning was great, but the competition was only a small part of why they chose to build a float.

"My favorite part of the whole process was that I got to hang out with some good friends every night for 11 weeks," Sullivan said, "Building the float was fun, but the best part was building relationships."

The Class B award went to Phi Kappa Chi and Chi Omega, and Baylor ROTC won the Class C award.

"I enjoyed seeing the floats," said parade chairperson and Chamber member Charles Lucenay. "We tried to increase the number of floats and to make the special entries more interesting for the people watching the parade."

The parade can be viewed online at www.baylortv.com.

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