There are a lot of things that claim to be the ultimate American experience. Apple pie. Baseball. Hot dogs. Tackle football. But for my money, nothing strikes a deeper chord in my nostalgic little hometown heart than the Homecoming parade.
For those of you from other countries, Homecoming is a fall event staged by high schools and colleges, generally linked to football. The original intent was to provide a designated home football game and a few surrounding activities to which alumni of the school could come and mingle with other alumni. Now it's mostly a week long frenzy of school spirit activities. The level of frenzy varies depending on the attitude of the school administration toward sports and the level of fanaticism amongst the followers of the school and team in question. But for most small towns, it includes a parade, in which each of the four high school grade levels enter a float of their own construction.
My class stunk at floats. We are the only class in memory that DIDN'T win as seniors. As juniors, we had a little mishap with the extension hose on the tailpipe and gassed our driver. We are probably the reason the floats are now built on trailers instead of directly over the chassis of the vehicle. That was, of course, the best float we ever constructed, but we were disqualified because it failed to finish the parade. A little harsh, we thought, considering the driver didn't even bash in any parked cars when he passed out.
Given all that, it makes perfect sense that I was asked to judge this year's floats.
It turned out to be a relatively painless and not particularly difficult task. And yes, I voted for the seniors. Hey, they had Axel Rose singing Welcome to the Jungle, monkeys in hammocks, and boa constrictors made out of ventilation hoses. Hard to beat.
Kudos to the sophomores, though, for their sandy beach, cityscape, and an killer sound system blasting Paradise City. (No, the theme wasn't Guns and Roses, just seemed like it).
The freshman did a decent job with Surfin' USA. That blue thing on the front is a wave. There's a wolf (our mascot) on a surf board on top of it.
Mostly, though, kudos to the weatherman. I don't recall a single year in high school when the candidates for Homecoming Queen and the cheerleaders didn't have to wear thermal underwear under their dresses. Or down-filled jackets over them.
*I had to do my judging and get back to work, so all pictures are pre-parade. And unlike the old days when we started our float construction early in the week, this year's classes started at 8:45 am this morning and had only until noon to finish. Not bad for three and half hours' work.