Parade draws community together

More than 100 groups took part in the homecoming parade over the weekend.

Emma Carew

Gary Tashima played a dual role in the parade by riding in the dignitaries’ car as a member of the court, then marching to the Metrodome as a member of the University Marching Band. He paired his homecoming crown with his marching band uniform in the homecoming parade and other festivities.

“I’m on double-duty,” he said.

He said he was glad to represent the marching band and enjoyed meeting the other people on the homecoming court.

More than 100 groups took part in the parade, said student coordinator Josh Labrensz. They ranged from floats designed by the greek community to cars carrying dignitaries such as Tashima and grand marshal Nancy Lindahl.

One group was the Zuhrah Patrol, which featured many University alumni. The Zuhrah Patrol is the oldest uniformed marching shrine in the United States.

“It makes you feel like you’re a part of the University again,” said Kevin Erickson of Minneapolis. He said the atmosphere and the young people at homecoming make it one of their favorite parades to march in.

“Some things never change,” said Bernie Wiklund of Ramsey. “The frat houses get new decorations, but they have the same enthusiasm (every year).”

Despite the early morning start and chilly weather, the homecoming parade drew a large crowd.

Alumni and community members lined University Avenue to see Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak wish them a happy homecoming, athletics director Joel Maturi hand out candy and sports teams such as men’s gymnastics rally support for the upcoming season.

The parade is about getting all of the community members, alumni and students together and getting them excited for the game, LaBrensz said.

University alumna Tabbetha LaPanta of Faribault attended the parade with her family. They come back for homecoming every year, she said.

Homecoming is an opportunity to show loyalty to the University, show Gophers spirit and see old friends, she said, waving to someone nearby.

“We bleed maroon and gold,” LaPanta said.

Students also gathered to show support for their teams and groups.

Italian and music senior Tim Brock said he came out to support his friends in the parade and to support the student groups.

“It’s always fun,” he said. “It’s great to see current students, past students, parents and members of the community.”