very fall, members of the University’s sorority and fraternity system spend thousands of dollars and months of their time doting on their labor of love — a Homecoming float.
All of the hard work, money and time comes together on Oct. 19, when the University community meets for one of the largest parades in Minnesota. The day is the moment of truth for some sororities and fraternities — the day when their housefront or float grabs top honors.
Spud Wilson, a sophomore in the College of Natural Resources and a member of Beta Theta Pi, admitted that the float “is a lot of work. That are a lot of sacrifices made by everyone.” His fraternity has been working on their float, “Golden Season in Goldy’s Golden Dynasty,” since June.
Jen Meyer, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta and a sophomore in College of Liberal Arts, agreed that working on their housefront is “lots of fun, but also lots of work.” Her sorority has been working on a housefront titled “The Golden Globe.”
Much of the work involved with the floats and housefronts goes into the designing and planning of the float. Jeremy Schefers, a College of Agriculture junior and a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity in St. Paul, said that they have been working with another sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, since June. The design of their float, named “The Gold Rush”, will contain 14 moving parts when it is finished, he said.
Preparations for the day of the parade are filled with tradition. For weeks members of the sororities and fraternities spend their time pomping. This is a time-consuming activity in which each person attaches crepe paper to the float one piece at a time.
Generally, each group stays up all night on the eve of the parade putting the final touches on their float or housefront. Hilary Hastings, a member of Alpha Gamma Delta and a sophomore in CLA, said that this night is a great time for the new pledges to get to know other members of the greek system.
Besides all of the time and work, there is also a lot of money put into the floats and housefronts. Sororities and fraternities spare no expense on their creations, spending thousands of dollars to produce a winning entry.
There is one final, crucial element that University students add to their exorbitant displays: pride. Many of the greek groups are out to defend their winning titles from last year, and with almost 100 different organizations and groups involved with the parade, there will be a lot of competition. The students know this, Hastings said, “but we are just out to do our best.”
Geoff Grimmer, the director of the Homecoming Committee, said that along with the thousands of spectators, University President Nils Hasselmo, Vice President of Student Development McKinley Boston and Gov. Arne Carlson will also be attending.
This year, Homecoming Committee members are trying to make the parade more University-oriented. They want it to be directed toward the students more than others in surrounding communities. To accomplish this several members of the faculty and staff will be judging the floats in the parade this year. Grimmer also said that there are fewer floats from surrounding areas in the parade.
Grimmer also said that there have been relatively few problems with the parade in the past.
Although the construction in Dinkytown this year will be an obstacle, he said the timing of the parade seems to be the biggest concern. Usually lasting about an hour and a half, getting the parade started on time is somewhat difficult. But those die-hard parade goers are not to worry because Grimmer promised, “it will be sunny and 85 degrees on Saturday!”