As the Rocky Mountain Golden Girls, twirling their candy cane-striped batons, danced in unison down Howes Street Friday, most parade onlookers were content with the with changes to the parade — including the day and route — a year after they were implemented.
Homecoming coordinators said a year after the annual Homecoming Parade was moved to Friday from Saturday morning and its route re-directed to end on campus — following student recommendation — there was an increase in participation from the CSU community, students in particular.
“And once we implemented (the change) we saw a dramatic increase in numbers right away, and that has continued into the second year,” said Matthew Helmer, a director of CSU events and the coordinator of the parade and festival.
An estimated number of 8,000 to 10,000 people attended this year’s parade despite the 43-degree weather. Last year’s attendance was estimated at 8,000 people, Helmer said.
“I think the parade is great . there are a lot of people here, and I’m glad they came out to support,” said Taleesa McIncosh, parade participant and vice president of the Black Student Alliance.
Many others attending the parade echoed McIncosh’s sentiment, whether they were onlookers, participants, students or local residents.
“We liked it,” said CSU alumnus Cerissa Stevenson, referring to her husband and infant. “I think it was good. I liked the new floats and actually seeing students in the parade.”
“I think having it on a Friday evening, it feels like the students are more involved,” Stevenson said. “We never went to the parade when we were in school,” she said about herself and her husband.
However, she also conceded that she missed some aspects, including high school participation, which saw a decrease this year and last when the event was moved to 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
“I missed all the high school bands,” she said.
Betty Anne, a 1947 CSU graduate and participant in the parade, said, “I still would rather have (the parade) on Saturday morning,” but added, “I think it is wonderful.”
Though parade attendance was not significantly affected by the cold weather, Helmer said, once the wind picked up in the evening, a lot of people chose to forgo the festival on the Lory Student Center West Lawn.
But some did stay out in the weather, even when it began to snow.
Tyler Carlton, a sophomore business and construction double major, braved the snow to attend the festival events.
“The fire was awesome man,” he said about the traditional bonfire lit in the ditch west of the LSC. “It was so warm on such a cold night. It felt so good.”
“The snow was awesome, too. Who doesn’t love the snow?”
In reaction to the fireworks display following the bonfire, Carlton said, “They were unreal. Especially the grand finale, it was phenomenal.”
Staff writer K.C. Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.