Homecoming traditions hold a big place in Western Carolina University’s history. Since the 1930’s, the university has celebrated homecoming through cookouts, bonfires, homecoming court and alumni awards. One of the biggest traditions, though, has been the annual homecoming parade. The parade started after the football program was reestablished in the 1930s. This year marks the 20th consecutive year the parade has been held in downtown Sylva.
In a 2003 interview for the Western Carolina magazine, WCU alumni Joab Catton IV said there was more to the parade than just a fun time.
“ We want to take the opportunity to give something back to the community that serves as our home away from home,” said Catton. Even 13 years later, students, faculty and Jackson County residents would agree.
The streets in Sylva were filled with families and friends, cheering and laughing as each float passed. A Jackson County resident and her family were one of the first to arrive in downtown Sylva.
“It’s nice seeing so many organizations, from WCU and Sylva, come together to celebrate such a tradition. My family and I watch the parade every year. This tradition has become ours as well.”
This year’s parade hosted hundreds of locals and visitors, excited to see this tradition play out. There were many organizations represented such as WCU dormitories, city council members, homecoming court, and Sylva law enforcement and fire department.
Senior and Madison Hall RA, Logan Day, walked in the parade with “The Hill” group, representing dormitories that sit on the hill at the back of campus.
“My favorite part of the parade is seeing the smiles on children’s faces when I give them candy,” Day said.
According to Kevin Koett, WCU’s Dean of Students, the organization of WCU’s homecoming parade is a collaborative effort of Residential Living and the Department of Campus Activities. The Homecoming Parade kicks off a weekend full of events such as the Zombie 5k Run, the Homecoming football game against Chattanooga, a musical performance by Mario and more!
Below is a photo gallery I created of the parade: