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Homecoming route changed

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Ben Kaylor

The Homecoming parade, a Water Street spectacle for years, will change its course slightly this fall.

Rather than running the previous route – a five-block span that starts at First Avenue and continues down Water Street – the parade will travel down First Avenue next semester.

The reasons to reroute the parade include preventing excessive crowding and the incidents that can come with too many people on Water Street, said Paula Stuettgen, coordinator of Student Development and Programming.

Freshman Ben Larson said he didn’t notice any problems at last year’s Homecoming parade, but he read about them in the newspaper the next week.

Even if the parade moves, Larson said, the crowds would follow for the atmosphere of Homecoming.

“It’s a reason to have fun,” he said.

Spectators crowding the roadway and throwing garbage at a high school marching band member prompted the decision to move the parade, Stuettgen said.

“A lot of students are down there because the bars are there. That’s the lure.”
Matt Walker
Freshman, on taking the parade off Water Street

“Last year we got to that critical mass point,” she said. “It was no longer safe.”

Stuettgen said the university has been considering moving the route for the past two years. The parade has run on Water Street since 1988.

Moving the parade from the Water Street bars, which typically draws crowds with Homecoming drink specials, is not a concern for Stuettgen.

“I don’t believe the Homecoming Committee puts on the parade for people on Water Street drinking,” she said.

Freshman Matt Walker, 24, said taking the parade route off Water Street will change the attendance.

“A lot of students are down there because the bars are there,” he said. “That’s the lure.”

Walker foresees crowds gathering at the corner of First Avenue and Water Street so they can stay close to the bars and catch a glimpse of the parade.

Another potential problem with moving the parade from Water Street, Walker said, is litter on the lawn of First Avenue residents.

Stuettgen said the new route might actually cut down on litter and the complaints that come with it.

On First Avenue, Stuettgen said, only one side of the street has residents, and they are all student renters. The other side of the street is Owen Park.

After a few residents complained about garbage appearing on Water Street the morning after the parade, the university paid $300 for an additional street sweeping at 3 a.m. Sunday, Stuettgen said.

The course of the parade is not the only change to next year’s Homecoming, a celebration long inconsistent with students’ plans to come closer to campus.

For years, there has been a festival at Carson Park after the parade and before the football game. Mostly alumni attend the event, Stuettgen said.

“As it turns out, most students choose to be unaware of it,” she said. “People choose to select alternative activities.”

Larson and Walker said they were unaware of the celebration at Carson Park and they wouldn’t go because it is so far from campus. If the festival were closer, they said they would be more apt to attend.

The Homecoming Committee has been thinking of holding a festival during the late afternoon with food and entertainment in the Haas Fine Arts lot.

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The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.
Homecoming route changed