Homecoming parade to return next year with expanded committee

Students watch a procession of the 2011 Homecoming parade. (Jake McLernon)
Students watch a procession of the 2011 Homecoming parade. (Jake McLernon)

The Office of Student Involvement plans to bring back the annual Homecoming parade next year after its absence at this year’s festivities. Planning for next year’s parade will begin earlier and calls for a larger role from students than in previous years.

The decision to cancel the parade this year was driven by a desire to come back with an improved parade for next year.

“…In order to do a bigger parade, we [decided] to postpone it for this year and come back next year, full steam ahead,” said Dennis Hicks, associate director of the office of student involvement.

The parade committee is one of five Homecoming committees which also include promotion, campus involvement, block party, and family outreach. Hicks said the parade committee will be expanded next year to include more student involvement in planning the event.

“Adding students to the committee will allow us to be more creative in how we connect to other students,” said Hicks. 

Hicks also said any Mason student will be invited to join the parade committee for next year, in contrast with previous years when the committee was largely comprised of student government and student involvement members.

The parade committee will eventually consist of eight to twelve students and one or two University Life staff members, according to Hicks.

Students on the parade committee will also aid the Program Board with the selection of the Homecoming’s theme, as well as help develop ideas to get more students participating in Homecoming events.

Hicks said he believes including more students in the planning process will make students feel more compelled to participate in the various Homecoming events.

The idea to open the planning process to students was driven by low student participation in the two previous Homecoming parades, said Hicks. A parade this year would have been the third in the short history of the event, which began in 2010.

Part of the solution for increasing turnout will be to begin the process earlier in April, as opposed to September in previous years. Hicks said this change will give student organizations the time they need to build a float and prepare for the event.

Speaking about the Homecoming events this year, Hicks described participation rates as “amazing” compared to previous years.

Penny Wars, an event in which students dropped change into buckets to raise money for charity, generated $2,000, while participants in the Can-struction Competition gathered over 2,000 non-perishable food items.

Although the start time for this year’s Homecoming game was later than normal, Hicks said it did not factor in the decision to cut the parade. He described this year’s later game time as “ideal,” since it gave Student Involvement more time to prepare.

Thorough planning for next year’s Homecoming won’t begin until April, but Hicks did reveal that next year’s theme will somehow reflect Mason’s 40th anniversary.

The Office of Student Involvement invites students to complete a survey evaluating this year’s Homecoming, which is available online here: http://studentvoice.com/gmu/homecoming2012evaluation

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