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Baylor organizations balance money, time, effort in building homecoming floats

Oct. 21, 2009

That's Paige McNamera, one of the float chairs for the Chi Omega fraternity, who is teaming with fraternity Phi Kappa Chi in this year's homecoming parade. Months of planning and hundreds of man-hours of work have gone into this year's float, the contents of which we can't reveal until tomorrow. The floats are a big deal at Baylor, as Greek organizations compete against each other, knowing that their floats become a representation of the group to the public. Patrick Simms is a float chair for Phi Chi who remembers enjoying the floats long before he was building one.

That reflection on Phi Chi, Chi-O, and Baylor lead organizations to not only spend long hours building the floats, but to also put a pretty large amount of money into the effort. Last year, Chi-O competed in Class A, meaning they could spend an unlimited amount of money on the float. This year, they're in class B, limited to $2, 500. That limitation, says Paige, Patrick, and fellow float chair, Emily Erikstad, causes them to be more resourceful and creative.

Says Sims, when you find an opportunity get something inexpensive, or better yet, free, you better jump on it in, particularly in class B.

Even with the financial restrictions, $2500 for a float is still a lot of money, and it takes a high degree of teamwork. All the the float chairs said it can be difficult managing the dozens of members who all have to work on it at some point, and they occasionally have to employ their political or conflict-resolution skills when people have differing ideas on what they want to work on, or what work needs to be done. For instance, no one is above stripping newspaper for paper mache, as the approximately 1500 shredded newspapers on the float would attest. Most of the work isn't glamorous. It can occasionally be physically hazardous as well, as Emily Erikstad found out while working on this years float.

But amidst the controlled chaos, the float takes shape, with very noticable amounts of change taking place in the 24 hours between my visits out there. And 24 hours from now, it will be on the road to campus, ready to be judged and to take its place in what just may be the largest homecoming parade in the nation. We'll see how Chi-O and Phi-Chi do, and find out what takes place in the frantic final hours tomorrow. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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