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University of Missouri

Hit Parade

Planning the big show for Mizzou’s biggest weekend starts months in advance.

parade flag corps

Tiger flags fly high at Mizzou’s annual Homecoming Parade. Photo by Kevin Mathein.

3 Homecoming hall of fame inductees

To honor multiple deserving members of the Mizzou family, the alumni association selected three grand marshals this year. They will become the first inducted into a new tradition, the Homecoming hall of fame.

 

15 dignitaries

Dignitaries are distinguished people from the Mizzou community. They include award-winning professors, Homecoming king and queen nominees, Columbia’s mayor and many more. Each dignitary sits in a convertible driven by a Mizzou graduate. Alumni from all over the country lend their convertibles and donate their time for the event.

For the past two years, Hattie Francis, BS ’77, MS ’85, JD ’95, has chauffeured dignitaries in the parade. She is a member of the Old Wheels Collector Car Club, an organization for car lovers in Columbia. “I love the parade because it touches so many people,” she says. Last year, “the gentleman I drove was on a cloud; it meant so much for him to be riding in the parade. It was a very special day.”

 

15 marching bands

What’s a parade without marching bands? This year, groups include Marching Mizzou and bands from Columbia’s Rock Bridge, Hickman and Battle high schools.

 

39 unique floats

Students get their creative juices flowing as they design and build floats, some of which boast moving parts, tell stories, bedazzle viewers with glitter — the sky is the limit. This year, the steering committee is encouraging diversity by opening competition beyond Greek organizations, which traditionally have built the floats. Homecoming tri-director Elle Miller wants as many people as possible to get involved. “We really want to make sure that the parade entries reflect the diversity of our campus and the community,” she says. “We’re hoping it gives organizations who might not have considered participating before a chance to get involved in any way they see fit.”

 

70 hands on deck

In addition to Homecoming Steering Committee, the entire Mizzou Alumni Association’s professional staff pitches in on the morning of the parade. People walking in the parade arrive at their spots an hour and a half before the parade kicks off, but by then the staff have been at work for almost four hours.

 

100 hours planning the parade

Serving on the Steering Committee is a huge commitment, which begins during the spring semester. “During the fall semester we’re making sure the parade lineup makes sense, meeting with different Greek pairings to see how their floats are coming along and answering any questions they may have,” Miller says. “We’re fortunate to have a group of people who are well versed in all the skills it takes to put on a parade.”

 

150 parade entries

Entries include Mizzou campus organizations, Greek life, government officials and local businesses. This year, all parade participants are tying their float themes to Mizzou to show spectators their Tiger spirit.

 

4,000 pounds of pomp

Each year sororities and fraternities are paired together to make floats and door decorations for Homecoming. Creating these pieces requires months of preparation and tons (literally) of pomp.

 

30,000 spectators

On average, about 30,000 people line the streets of downtown CoMo to watch the parade. The largest crowd occurred in 2012 when ESPN’s College GameDay broadcast from the Quad. That year, the crowd was estimated at 50,000.