Flair of eau claire

It’s 10 a.m. and flocks of students, giant bananas and Braveheart freedom fighters are all walking on Water Street. Could this be some sort of dream? After a nice tight pinch, one realizes it’s the annual UW-Eau Claire Homecoming parade.

The Homecoming parade will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with a variety of floats and non-marching units tooling around near campus.

The 2008 Homecoming theme, “Zeus is on our side . Strike down the Titans,” is regarding the Blugold football game against the UW-Oshkosh Titans.

There will be numerous campus organizations participating in the parade. Some of them include Career Services, Student Senate, UW-Eau Claire Waterski and Wakeboard Club, Multi-cultural Alliance of Change and numerous residence halls, University Activities Commission Festivals Chair Amanda Zimdars said.

Zimdars also mentioned that the main off-campus participants in the parade would be the Altoona High School Marching Band and the Eau Claire Fire and Rescue.

Matt Germonprez, assistant professor in information systems, will be this year’s grand marshal. Germonprez won the 2008 Excellence in Teaching award which is in conjunction with being grand marshal for the parade.

Germonprez said he is excited and looking forward to the parade itself.

“It’s pretty cool to be grand marshal,” he said. “I look forward to riding in the convertible with my daughter.”

The Excellence in Teaching award is voted on by alumni. Alumni are surveyed or contacted and asked to highlight a professor for that year. Germonprez said being nominated was nice because it was former students and not people internally at the university that nominated him.

“It’s students I have worked with over the years,” he said. “It’s great because I really like my students and to know the feeling is mutual, is very nice as well.”

The Blugold Marching Band, conducted by associate professor of music Randy Dickerson, will lead the parade. Dickerson said the band has been leading off the parade in his eight years here.

“Perhaps it’s because we are big and loud and we can get everyone’s attention to start things off,” Dickerson said via email.

As of Tuesday, Dickerson said the band had not decided on what they would play during the parade. He said the theme this year is classic rock, so the band would either do some rock songs or other university songs.

The band will be sporting their traditional uniforms. The uniforms are blue and gold, having the word BLUGOLDS on the front.

“(The uniforms) are much better representations of Blugold spirit than if we wore anything else,” Dickerson said.

Dickerson said the high school students that are playing in the parade are important as well.

“I speak to them on the parade route and make sure that if they attend the game they are able to sit beside our band in the stands,” he said. “I encourage our students to interact with the high school students as much as possible.”

There will be three sororities involved in the parade: Sigma Sigma Sigma, Delta Zeta and Alpha Xi Delta. Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) will represent the Eau Claire fraternities. All four of the organizations are working together, something a bit out of the ordinary.

“This year, four of the Greek organizations . have banded together to participate in all the Homecoming activities, games and parade,” FIJI president junior Michael Williams said.

Williams said that the floats and designs made by the organizations will be following the Greek theme.

“We are all extremely excited to work together as we have never all fully worked together in the past,” Williams said.

Junior Tara Dettle, president of Sigma Sigma Sigma, said she is looking forward to the parade on Saturday as well.

“I like being on the float,” she said. “There is so much energy. The energy especially coming from people watching is always really fun.”

Dettle said the organizations plan to make a “Mount Olympus” type float this year. Some people will be wearing T-shirts stating “the top 10 reasons why the Greeks are on our (Eau Claire’s) side,” and some will be wearing Greek-like togas as well, she said.

Dettle, whose sorority won best float in last year’s parade, said the floats and costumes have been more individual in the past.

“In past years it has been pretty competitive amongst us,” Dettle said. “People take it really seriously.”

Sigma Sigma Sigma had members playing air guitar to Queen’s “We Will Rock You” last year on their float. One person was also dressed up as the UW-La Crosse Eagle, and was “beaten up” by members. People were walking along the side of the float dancing as well, Dettle said.

Every year participants in the parade are judged based on how well they fit the theme for that year, Zimdars said. Parade participants are put into categories based on floats, cars and non-musical marching units. Each are judged individually and separately, Zimdars said.

There have been some interesting performances in past years, including The Singing Statesmen dressing up as people from the movie Braveheart, and Governors Hall had people dressed up as bananas singing songs, said Zimdars.

Dettle feels Homecoming and the parade are very important to Eau Claire.

“It’s an opportunity for students to take it easy, at least on the weekend,” she said. “There is always a big turn out for the games, and organizations take it more seriously than what most people do.”