SURRATT: Remembering homecoming parades of yesteryear

Published 4:00 am Friday, October 1, 2021

The St. Aloysius homecoming parade passed by the paper Wednesday evening.

I stood outside the office with camera in hand recording the moment, in hopes that a few of the shots might make one of our editions, and dodged raindrops to capture the moment.

The parade was the usual school event with the band, cheerleaders, football team, class floats and the homecoming court perched on the backs of convertibles waving to the crowd as they passed by. It’s something I’ve gotten used to from working and living in small towns, and I find the custom to be an enjoyable event.

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Homecoming is a very interesting time. The alumni return to the campus for reunions and go to the games, hoping this year’s opponent is a team their alma mater will beat. Losing the homecoming game leaves a rather sour taste in one’s mouth.

Going to high school in Baton Rouge, a high school homecoming parade was something I wasn’t used to. I guess when you go to a school where the number of students equals the population of a small city, such things may not be practical, although the high schools in the smaller communities of Baker and Zachary in the northern part of East Baton Rouge Parish, which had smaller populations, had homecoming parades. I remember working for a weekly in Baker and covering their parade.

I remember homecoming parades at LSU, although they were always a bit disjointed since the parade had to compete with traffic from people visiting the campus to look at the displays built by the fraternities and sororities on campus.

Those works of art composed of tissue, wood and chickenwire depicting a football game or, as in the case of some fraternities very cutting satire, were a top tourist attraction during homecoming and I doubt there isn’t a Baton Rouge family somewhere that doesn’t have a photo of the kids or spouse standing in front of or alongside some artistic creation in the front yard of some fraternity or sorority house.

Those days, unfortunately, are long gone. The last time I was on campus for homecoming, there were no decorations and the traffic was horrendous. One more memory of my youth dashed.

And that’s what makes the St. Al, or the Vicksburg High, or the Warren Central, or the Porters Chapel, parade all the more interesting. They bring back a memory of a much simpler time and I hope the students, alumni and parents soak up the entire experience because it is a one-of-a-kind event. It’s something that should be remembered and treasured as they go through life.

Football, whether it’s high school or college, is a special fall custom in the South and homecoming is a special time during the season.

So for our four high schools, I wish them good luck in their games and hope their students enjoy their homecoming festivities; it’s something they’ll remember later in life.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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