Homecoming Parade increases patriotism

Martha Armstrong, Staff Writer

Francis Marion University’s second annual Homecoming Parade, held Saturday, February 23, 2012, exhibited growing organization involvement, competition and spectatorship.

Beginning at 10:30 a.m., thirty-two student organizations’ decorated golf carts, along with the Kingstree High School Drum Line, paraded through campus, passing out candy, blowing bubbles and waving at spectators.

The thirty-two student organizations involved decorated their golf carts in a competition to win in four different categories. The golf carts were assessed by a panel of three judges.

Dr. Rebecca Flannagan, professor of English and one of the three judges on the panel, explained that each cart would be rated in four categories. Dr. Tim Shannon, Associate Professor of Biology and Dr. David White, Chair of Political Science and Geography Department were the two other judges.

The FMU Diplomats won the award for Best Overall by the panel of judges. The School of Education’s cart won the Best Theme category for its “Where the Wild Things Are” theme. The Most Patriotic award went to the Zeta Tau Alpha fraternity. The judges gave the James Rogers Library the Most Creative cart award.

According to LaTasha Brand, assistant dean of students, the parade has really grown in the past year.

“The organizations that participated this year, you could tell, stepped up their game to try and compete for some of the prizes,” Brand said. “There were some interesting cart decorations. I can only see this getting bigger and better as the years roll by.”

According to Brand, more campus departments participated this year and indicated to that they intended to compete in the upcoming years. Spectatorship grew over last year, and Brand explains that the size of the parade will only go up from here.

The parade began at The Housing Office, up Patriot Drive, took a left on Alumni Drive, and ended at the Smith University Center (UC) where the Kingstree High School Drum Line did a brief performance on the UC front porch with bubbles and drops of rain floating in the air.

“The Drum Line did an outstanding job and was a great addition to the parade,” Brand said.

The FMU Homecoming Parade events ended just before the campus was caught in the snow and rain that had been threatening the Florence area all morning.

Student Government Association President and Chairman of the Parade, Cody Simpson, along with Co-Chair, Lauren Balutis, were in charge of the overall efforts for the parade. They created an ad hoc committee from the Student Government Association and other student organizations who volunteered for various roles in sub-committees.

The Public Relations Committee created a Facebook page, “Francis Marion University Patriot Pride Homecoming Parade” along with a Twitter account to spread the news through social media.

According to Brand, the Decorating Committee did an excellent job of decorating along the route of the parade.

Other committees included: the On-Site Committee, the Clean-Up Committee, the On-Site Registration Committee, and the Judging Committee, who were responsible for recruiting the three judges for the golf cart decoration competition.

“The parade committee themselves did an excellent job of putting everything together.” Brand said.

Brand commended all members in each volunteer committee for their hard work and efforts from decorations, to the individuals who were instrumental in assigning carts to organizations, to cleaning up after the events.

According to Brand, Simpson and Balutis did an excellent job overseeing the coordination of these committees in making the 2013 Homecoming Parade a success.

Brand gives special thanks to ABW Golf Carts, a Florence based golf cart rental company, for supplying golf carts to organizations that may not otherwise have access to a golf cart of their own.