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Baylor Greek life prepares for 100th Baylor Homecoming Parade

Oct. 20, 2009

That's Lori Scott-Fogleman, introducing last year's KWBU-TV broadcast of the homecoming parade. This year will mark the 100th anniversary of the legendary Baylor homecoming parade, a tradition that started with a summons from former Baylor president Samuel Palmer Brooks.

That day in 1909 also marked the first Baylor Homecoming Parade, which took place off and on for a few decades as world wars and other concerns ensured that the parade, and even homecoming itself, took place intermittently. Finally, after World War II, the parade became a yearly celebration, complete with traditions that have lasted more than a half-century. Football games, candy and treats thrown to the kids lining the parade route, and floats highlighting the game and mocking the opponent have become staples each fall. And for most attendees, it's crowds, football, and kids excitedly pointing out the sorority's and fraternity's elaborate floats that provide the soundtrack of homecoming.

But for the Baylor students who create the floats, these are the sounds of homecoming. That, and scores of their brothers and sisters working frantically to pull off yet another float, and hopefully earn a judge's award as the best float for another year. Sorority Chi Omega--or Chi O--has teamed up this year with fraternity Phi Kappa Chi--or Phi Chi--to collaborate on a float. We can't tell you anything about it just yet. It's a secret that's not revealed until Friday morning when the organizations present their floats to the judges. A lot of work has been done already, and a lot more work will be done into the wee hours to wrap it up this week. But the planning has been going on since last school year. Paige McNamera, Emily Erickstad, and Patrick Simms are three of the float chairs for Chi-O and Phi-Chi. They had to turn in their theme during finals week in May. A lot of ideas were tossed around.

This is big business at Baylor. The floats are expensive. They represent Chi O and Phi Chi to alums as well as peers, says Erickstad.

And of course, there's the competition. Winning the judges' award and beating your fellow Greek organizations is a big deal. That's why we're meeting at a top-secret location, an unmarked warehouse in the hinterlands a good ten miles outside of Waco. And lest you think that's youthful overkill, consider that there's a history of sabotage that students are all too aware of, says McNamera.

In this warehouse sits a giant 14 by 26 foot flatbed trailer--again, we can't reveal what's on it just yet. But scattered everywhere are newspapers for paper mache, paint, sawdust, power equipment, and workers quietly preparing for the big day. Forty-eight hours or so from now, they'll be heading onto campus for judgment. They've been pouring their time and energy into it for over a month now, dozens of students led by six float chairs giving up free time and sleep to get it done. Just how stressful is it?

Tomorrow we'll look at what goes into making the float, and KWBU is following Chi Omega and Phi Kappa Chi as they take part in a tradition that began 100 years ago. For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.

KWBU will be following Chi-O and Phi Chi throughout homecoming week as they prepare for the 100th anniversary of the Baylor Homecoming Parade.

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