Paper mache, brightly colored tissue paper, fringe, pom poms, garland and other items will soon travel down the streets of Muncie and Ball State. The annual Ball State Homecoming Parade is back, one of the university's longest running traditions, which started in 1939.
The Homecoming Parade is at 10 a.m. Saturday. It will begin at Muncie Central High School and go through downtown and then through campus. It will end at the McKinley and Neely avenues. The parade begins and ends before tailgating festivities.
Organizations and businesses submitted more than 100 float entries into the parade. The floats range from cars to horses, and each is decorated to fit the Homecoming theme, "Play Your Cards Right." Floats will be judged by how well it corresponds with the theme and how it represents the organization.
"People use everything and anything from cardboard to balloons to streamers," said Amanda Edwards, Homecoming Steering Committee parade chairwoman. "Pretty much anything you can think of, I'm sure someone has tried putting it on a float."
A new activity is being introduced this year to Ball State students - the residence hall section. This section will be held from 10 a.m. until noon, the duration of the parade, in the University Green. Students may watch the parade with their floors while enjoying refreshments and games.
"There will be a lot of free giveaways, and WCRD will be participating, as well," Edwards said. "Students will also receive a complimentary breakfast provided by Marsh."
Participants of the residence hall section are eligible to receive Ashley Points, which are spirit points. Organizations receive them when members attend and participate in Homecoming events. These points can accumulate, and winners may receive either a trophy or plaque. The residence hall section is not just open for residents; everyone is welcome to engage.
Current students are not the only ones encouraged to participate in the Cardinal fun. Alumni, the community and Miss Ball State will show off their Cardinal pride as well.
"The supporters of the parade are about 50-50 between campus and the community," Edwards said. "This is our biggest event to get the community involved in Homecoming."
Greek organizations, such as Lambda Chi Alpha, are supporters of this Ball State tradition.
"We are paired with the lovely ladies of Alpha Omicron Pi, and it is a collaborative effort," Chris Buck, president of Lambda Chi Alpha, said. "We have created a float that represents the theme and our organizations the best. We are adding components to make it more interactive with the members on the float."
Justin Friend of Lambda Chi Alpha said brainstorming float ideas is a process.
"Well, we get together and basically hash out some ideas," Friend said. "We all have input of what we would like the float to look like and then we work from there. With 150 people from both organizations, it can get a little crazy, so we try to narrow the best ideas down."
Besides float entries, there are two other categories that can be entered into the parade - car or walking and golf carts. There is only one community winner for the car or walking entry. There is a campus winner for each of the three categories - float, golf carts and car or walking entries.
The Ball State Pride of Mid-America Marching Band will be at the beginning of the parade but is not competing for any awards. However, there are high school bands in the parade to compete, such as Muncie Central, Jay County, Mississinewa and Cowan.
"They all compete for different band awards," Edwards said. "They can receive 'Most Creative' or 'Overall Best Marching Band.'"
Police will escort all of the floats to ensure the safety of participants and the crowd.
"The floats can be pretty big, and they do not go very fast," Edwards said. "We want to make sure people are aware of what is going on around them."