The 2010 Albion College Homecoming festivities kicked off on Saturday morning with the 175th Anniversary Parade, the first Homecoming parade the college has put on for students and alumni in more than twenty years.
Marie Ames, associate director of college events, said holding a parade used to be considered a “big deal” and a competitive event on campus when it was a staple in every Homecoming weekend.
“In the 1950s and 1960s, many of the fraternities and sororities used to rival each other on who could make the biggest, most elaborate float or raise the most money for charity,” Ames said. “Back then, the parade would stroll through all of campus and make its way downtown towards Superior Street.”
Ames said that the celebration of Albion College’s 175th anniversary was an incentive for the Institutional Advancement Office to revive the tradition. Officials were asked why the tradition was held off for so many years, however, no one seemed to have an answer.
“This was a way for us to bring back much of the spirit and momentum that Albion has honed in within its rich heritage,” Ames said.
The parade began at 11:15 a.m., the lineup turning off of Cass Street and onto the main drag on Hannah Street. It was led by the British Eighth marching band and color guard, followed closely by the dance team and cheerleading squads.
Following the marching band in a classic Chevrolet was Albion president Dr. Donna Randall, along with her husband, Paul Hagner.
“When I heard about the parade, I thought that it was a terrific idea to bring back one of Albion’s most cherished traditions,” Randall wrote in an e-mail earlier this week. “It gives our alumni a feeling of pleasure to be able to return to campus—it is this feeling that encourages so many of them to give back.”
Many student organizations were encouraged to participate in the parade as well. This lineup included Alpha Xi Delta, Kappa Delta, and Union Board. All organizations were given the opportunity to be present in the parade, whether it meant building floats, holding banners, or passing out candy. Many local businesses, including Cascarelli’s and College Chevrolet as well as several distinguished alumni walked along with the organizations.
John Carlyle, ’60 and his wife Nancy stood along Hannah Street and watched the parade among many of his fellow returning alumni. A retired lawyer who now teaches tax law at Grand Valley State University, Carlyle was one of nearly 20,000 alumni invited to come back to this year’s homecoming festivities.
“Coming back and seeing the parade reminded me of all the opportunities that Albion has given me all my life,” Carlyle said. “This is why I continue to come back and contribute.”
The parade also included the 2010 Homecoming Court, who rode in restored classic cars, which ranged in eras from the 1930s to the 1970s. Casey Hoffman, Menomonee junior, thought very highly of the experience in being a part of an Albion tradition. Hoffman was later crowned Homecoming King along with queen Hanah Papp, Hartland senior during halftime at Saturday’s football game.
“Sometimes we focus so intently on present challenges that we forget how great our college is,” Hoffman said. “Seeing the spirit of our college’s alumni and students reminds me that Albion is not just a college—Albion is family.”
As Casey Hoffman’s father, my comments are obviously perhaps tainted a but, but last weekend my wife Donna and I drove all night – sat in the cold rain most of the day – had another short night – and then drove nine hours to get home so that we could go to work on Monday morning. Most folks might think that we are a bit crazy, but – even though we are tired, we wouldn’t have missed this experience for anything in the world. We didn’t come to see Casey win anything – even though we are terribly proud of him. We came to be part of a special experience and be meet some of the most special people in Casey’s life. What a great treat it was to not only meet many of the outstanding Homecoming Court candidates, but every time we make the trip to Albion, we have the privilege to also meet more and more of the students, professors and administrative officials who are making such a difference in Casey’s life. Thanks to everyone for making us feel so welcome. GO BRITS!! Kindest Regards, Wes & Donna Hoffman