Homecoming float competition to rock out

Sophomore Chris Castillo paints a piece of wood that will be part of the parade float shared this year by Sigma Alpha Epsilon, COISO and Delta Phi Epsilon. Brittney Bomnin // Photo Editor
Sophomore Chris Castillo paints a piece of wood that will be part of the parade float shared this year by the Federation of Cuban Students, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, COISO and Delta Phi Epsilon. Brittney Bomnin // Photo Editor

The homecoming float competition will turn Stanford Circle into Electric Avenue as 15 student organizations and two local grade schools rock the University of Miami campus on Friday.

This year’s theme for the parade comes from the 1980s rock song “Electric Avenue” by Eddy Grant.

Student organizations in sets of three will create five floats that incorporate the rock theme and school spirit.

West Laboratory Elementary School and Canterbury Preschool will each design their own float for the parade, but will not participate in the competition. The schools’ unprecedented participation signifies a greater purpose: community involvement.

“It’s really important for United Black Students to participate in the float just because it’s something that’s open to the wider Miami community,” said Christine Nanan, a junior who serves as president of the organization. “So it’s an opportunity for UBS to put its name out there for the rest of the university and the community to see what we’re doing.”

Senior Michael Philippe-Auguste, who is in charge of the parade this year, said it shows that the community cares about the University of Miami and that the competition encourages diverse student organizations to come together.

“There’s an underlying networking opportunity by working with other organizations on a float. There’s a challenge. It also helps students interact with each other in different types of settings,” Philippe-Auguste said.

Competition rules require that organizations share a float. Student groups are permitted to incorporate designs unique to their organization in the decoration, but Philippe-Auguste said that the float should more so illustrate a joint effort to show school spirit.

For every student group that chooses to participate in the competition, it is a serious and secretive undertaking.

“It’s a lot of preparation. It’s a lot of money,” Nanan said. “So, it’s definitely a collaborative effort between everyone who is working on it because everyone has different talents. Some people are more artistic. They can do painting and that kind of thing and some people are more crafty, so they can saw the wood. It’s always a diverse group for every float.”

The Homecoming Executive Committee gives each organization a $50 Home Depot gift card, but the teams split any additional costs between the organizations.

“It’s going to be very creative. It’s supposed to be a big secret,” said senior Ashley Calloway, vice president of UBS, which won two years ago. “I am excited about the parade. The parade is always fun because everybody gets to come together and everybody is just in a really good mood.”

Individual organizations can earn and lose points based on 16 criteria, including number of parade volunteers, float size and overall creativity. An impartial UM President Donna E. Shalala will join the five competition judges from the show-mobile, a movable stage where the university administrators will decide the winner.

This year’s parade will feature many other homecoming firsts, including a special performance with black lights and glow sticks from the Electric Dancers, as well as a guest appearance from WPLG news anchor Will Manso. There will also be prize giveaways distributed from the floats.

“This is going to be one of the best homecoming parades that the University of Miami has ever had and I hope that everybody comes out to support,” Philippe-Auguste said.