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Homecoming parade floats through campus

MELISSA HALTERMAN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Lisa Corella, a sophomore majoring in biology and Spanish, helps psychology sophomore Sonya Morris onto the Homecoming float for JUNTOS Tuesday night. The eight-member organization JUNTOS worked for three months creating their float for tomorrow's parade.
By Alexis Blue
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 7, 2003

Homecoming just wouldn't be Homecoming without the colorful parade that snakes through campus each year, and campus clubs have been working overtime to make this year's parade entries the best they can be.

The parade, which hits the streets at 1 p.m. tomorrow, will follow in the footsteps of Homecoming parades past, as 25 floats built by various alumni and student organizations circle the UA Mall along with classic entries like the "Pride of Arizona" marching band and a collection of smiling VIPs, including Homecoming royalty and President Peter Likins.

The 35 members of the Chain Gang Junior Honorary will also roll through the streets as they have for years, waving out of the windows of their traditional yellow school bus.

But not everyone in this year's parade has participated before.

A few clubs, like the Student Alumni Association, Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity and JUNTOS, the student advisory council for Chicano/Hispanic Student Affairs, will make their parade debuts this year, said Kristen Wolf, parade co-chair and member of Bobcats Senior Honorary, the organization that coordinates Homecoming activities.

Dane Sutherland, president of the Student Alumni Association, said SAA decided to build a float this year because seniors in the club wanted to make their last Homecoming as students memorable.

Sutherland, a marketing senior, said working on the float has been an exercise in team-building for the organization and said it will definitely become a new SAA tradition.

Although Sutherland said the float's design is a secret, he said it sticks to this year's Homecoming theme of "paint the town red and blue."

"I can tell you that it'll be looking good," Sutherland said.

While everyone in the parade is expected to stick to the "painting the town," theme, some organizations hope to convey more than just Wildcat spirit with their entries.

Members of JUNTOS and the Hispanic Alumni Council joined together this year with a goal to design and build a multi-cultural Homecoming float, said Veronica Martinez, chair of JUNTOS.

"It's important to show diversity because it's an important issue, especially at the University of Arizona," said Martinez, a political science senior. "We're representing everyone with our float."

JUNTOS is the umbrella organization for eight multi-cultural fraternities, sororities and clubs on campus, all of which came together to build this year's float along with the Hispanic Alumni Association, Martinez said.

"We've never done anything like this," she said. "It's a huge collaboration."

Martinez said she and her peers have been working on the design and construction of the float since last spring, enlisting the help of a volunteer paper-machete expert, costume designer and carpenter in hopes of making their entry stand out in tomorrow's parade.

"We've put in a lot of work," Martinez said as she helped with the finishing touches on Tuesday night. "I'm impressed, and I'm very proud."

Covered from bumper to bumper in shimmering red, blue and silver, the float features a rotating red and blue "A" above a series of four paper-machete masks, representing African-American, Asian, Native American and indigenous Mexican


Costumes will also have a multi-cultural flair, and students who ride on the float will don outfits ranging from cowboy attire to mambo dancer costumes, Martinez said.

A multi-cultural Wilbur the Wildcat look-alike will also join the group.

Oscar Lujan, executive director for the Hispanic Alumni Association, said he was glad so many people from so many different organizations came together to create the float.

"It was really cool. It was a good experience because we were all working together for a common cause," he said.

Lujan said the Hispanic Alumni Association and JUNTOS have talked about entering a float for at least two years, and said he's glad they finally took the plunge.

"It's the beginning of a lot of things," he said. "It instills a sense of pride. It shows anything's possible if you group together."

Lujan said he's hoping for first place in tomorrow's parade.

The club that wins first place for its entry will win $200. The second place entry will get $100 and third place will get $50, Wolf said.

Judges will also give out a "Wildcat Spirit Award" plaque as well as a plaque for "most entertaining" entry.

The parade begins at 1 p.m. tomorrow at East Second Street and North Campbell Avenue, and it will make its main stretch around the UA Mall.

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