Student Activities annual homecoming parade puts on show as clubs, organizations show Flames spirit
This year’s homecoming parade was nothing short of spectacular. Candy attracted children, children attracted parents, and surprisingly, parents did not scare away students as thousands of people lined the campus streets to be a part of such a great tradition.
Stephanie Ward, the promotions manager for Student Activities, shared about the excitement buzzing around the department every year in preparation for the parade.
“Our department is always extremely excited for homecoming weekend,” Ward said. “We put lots of time and energy into preparing a good time for the current students, LU alumni, faculty and staff. We think it’s a great time for the Liberty University family to unify, and it pumps everyone up for the football game to follow.”
The annual parade entertained students and alumni alike and gave different Liberty clubs, organizations and departments the chance to compete for the prize of the parade’s best float.
“We give participants the flexibility to create a float that symbolizes their club or department,” Ward said. “Most of the entries cater to current students and LU alumni.”
Homecoming weekend at Liberty also brought out some of the best competition this year, and it was not only on the football field.
A sea of red shirts gathered along University Boulevard and raked in the candy as horses, floats, the Liberty University Marching Band and sports cars with well-known Liberty figures passed. Two of the most competitive departments in the parade were the Nursing Department and the Psychology Department, both looking to capture bragging rights for the rest of the year.
“We are looking forward to beating psychology,” senior nursing student Aimee Phillips said. “We got second place to psychology last year, and we are pretty confident this year that we will take first again.”
A $500 prize was awarded to the winner selected by the judges, along with a $400 prize for second place and a $300 prize for third place. However, the only thing on the minds of the Psychology and Nursing Departments was taking home the first place title.
According to Liberty psychology professor Larry Anderson, the Psychology Department came in second two years ago, but they won last year. Saturday was the day for them to attempt to defend their title.
“They knew we were coming, but Dr. Logan, five students and I marched into one of the classes with signs that said ‘Beat Nursing’ and ‘Post-Traumatic Parade Disorder.’ Since they knew we were coming, they (silly) stringed us right in the middle of class. We did that in two classes, so we knew we were going to get it. (It was) just to create some rivalry, enthusiasm and awareness.”
Two years ago, the Flames football team played Charleston Southern University in their homecoming game, and the Psychology Department’s float featured a therapist helping a Buccaneer dressed similarly to Charleston Southern’s mascot deal with his fear of losing to Liberty. Last year’s theme for the game against the Coastal Carolina University Chanticleers was a psychology tailgate, complete with students playing cornhole. They also held a fake roast of a rooster, also called a chanticleer, over a fake fire.
This year, the Psychology Department had a new concept for the opponent, the Gardner-Webb University Bulldogs. Ivan Pavlov, famous for his experiment in which dogs were conditioned to expect food, was portrayed on the float by one psychology student, and another student in a dog costume acted like a bulldog being conditioned to fear the Flames.
“It’s a good concept because Pavlov is one of the famous people in psychology,” Anderson said. “He discovered classical conditioning. So it fits psychology, and it fits homecoming because we’re playing Gardner-Webb. So that’s what we try to do. That’s what we’ve done the last three years, to combine the event with the team we’re playing and psychology in some way.”
Their rivals, the Nursing Department, chose a more department-centered theme. According to Phillips, the department’s saying, “We are the hands and feet of Christ,” played a part in the theme of their float.
“We had talked about doing missions,” Phillips said. “That’s why we have all the flags and stuff on there. We are concentrating a lot on Africa and AIDS in Africa, but it’s turned into a more generalized missions type of theme.”
The department’s float featured flags from different countries and nursing students in their white lab coats. Including the planning and building process, Phillips said that it took about four weeks to make. About 15 students organized the float, and more students participated on Saturday.
After the parade had passed and the candy had been thrown, the results were a surprise to both the Psychology and Nursing Departments. A poll on the Student Activities Facebook page asked students and parade attendees which float they thought was the best, and a new champion emerged Monday morning.
The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ float, titled “Life 4 U,” took the victory and the $500 prize. Students in white T-shirts decorated with colorful handprints filled the float along with lots of colorful balloons. Nursing took home the second-place prize, and psychology settled for third.
Other homecoming week events included the Homecoming bonfire and the Deep Hollow Half Marathon and 5K Trail Race. Coverage of those events can be found on page B8.