Education Lab

Fresno State homecoming parade marches again

Fresno State revives a slumbering tradition Saturday with a parade celebrating the university's centennial homecoming.

The 3 p.m. parade through campus features more than 60 entries and 800 people, said Tracy Newel, centennial project coordinator. Entries include vintage cars, floats, marching bands and the Madden Library book cart drill team.

University officials say it's the first homecoming parade in about a decade, although the tradition virtually died out in the 1960s. This one coincides with Fresno State's 100-year anniversary and Saturday's centennial homecoming.

Parade entries offer a taste of campus life, humor and ingenuity.

Glenda Harada, director of administrative operations at the library, is a member of the eight-person book cart drill team. The group has practiced its roughly seven-minute routine -- set to Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" -- for at least a month, she said.

The team has had to cope with a few road challenges because book carts aren't designed as all-terrain vehicles. Occasionally, Harada said, a wheel or two falls off when a cart hits a bump or pothole.

So a team member has to quickly jam the wheel back on "or just push on with three wheels," she said. "It makes for an interesting variation in the routine."

The physics department and engineering college are among those working on floats.

Don Williams, a faculty member in the physics department, said the float will offer several demonstrations -- including one that involves a bed of nails.

Float-builders in the engineering college had hoped to include a zeppelin. But Ramakrishna Nunna, interim dean of the Lyles College of Engineering, said that idea deflated over the high cost of helium -- $1,000 -- needed to keep the airship aloft.

The float's new working theme is old and new technology.

The parade will loop through campus, stepping off on Barstow Avenue and heading west from Maple Avenue. From Barstow, the route turns south at Campus Drive and runs past the Peace Garden on the street's sidewalk extension. The route heads east along Keats and Matoian avenues, past the Smittcamp Alumni House and back to a parking lot near the Save Mart Center.

Commentators will describe the entries at stations on Barstow and at the Peace Garden.

There is no charge for the parade or parking on campus before 3:30 p.m. for that event. Parade parking is on the east side of campus.

Saturday's homecoming events also include the "Tailgate of the Century," the Fresno State/New Mexico State football game, a special halftime event and fireworks after the game.

Homecoming officials say those attending Saturday events should arrive early and allow extra time to cope with road closures and heavy traffic.