Originally published February 3, 2012 in The Commonwealth Times
To kick off the last day of one of the most spirited times of the school year, VCU celebrated the 50th anniversary of having the Ram mascot with a first-ever homecoming parade on Saturday morning.
The parade went from 901 Lombardy St. to Monroe Park and shut down one side of Broad street for half an hour. More than 20 floats participated, including numerous student organizations, community groups and the 1963 Basketball Queen, Sarah Lehman.
In addition to other homecoming traditions, like the Commons Block Party, a Friday night concert and a Saturday basketball game, the homecoming parade was created to rev up school spirit on the last day of homecoming week. The VCU Rams went head to head with the Fordham Rams to end homecoming week with an 81-65 win Saturday night.
Jessica Watts, spirit chairperson for the homecoming committee, worked since early last semester to pull together the inaugural parade. Watts, a sophomore psychology major, wanted to create a homecoming tradition that connected VCU pride with students and the community.
“Homecoming week is a time to be excited about where you are and I just think you should be proud … I think the homecoming parade is a good way to show it especially with all the students involved,” she said.
Faculty adviser Amy Gray and VCU Police Chief John Venuti worked with the homecoming committee members to organize the parade. Gray, the director of student and young alumni engagement for alumni relations, helped with homecoming events because she said homecoming is a natural place for alumni to be involved.
“Showing VCU pride should be an everyday thing, but it’s exciting to do it during homecoming when alumni can come back and be a part of the action and what is important to them,” she said.
The homecoming committee charged student organizations $25 per float and community members $50 to cover the cost of the police to block off traffic and give rewards to the most spirited floats and the best sign. A “paint the town black and gold” contest was also held for community businesses along the parade strip, who painted their store windows black and gold to support school spirit.
Venuti helped Watts with city restrictions and getting cooperation from area businesses. He worked with Watts to fill out the special event permit to the city manager’s office, which must be done at least 45 days prior to the event.
“I supported it because I think it was a student-initiated type of concept and something I think had never been done before,” Venuti said. “I like to support those kinds of initiatives.” Venuti estimated around 100 people were in the parade.
Marcus Clay Massok, a freshman member of Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow, rode through the parade on the hood of a Hummer decorated like a ram.
“We want to show how proud we are of our school and to support our team and we’re ready to fight for the Rams no matter where we are and how much it takes,” he said.