TERRE HAUTE —
Sycamores filled the sidewalks as thousands of spectators cheered on the home team.
Indiana State University’s 2012 Blue and White Homecoming Parade kicked off on a brisk Saturday morning as floats poured down Wabash Avenue from Ninth and Cherry streets. This year’s theme, “Miles of Sycamore Memories,” encouraged participants to draw upon the school’s legacy for inspiration in their floats.
According to parade organizer Paula Myer, the event’s 96th run drew 120 entries to the downtown march along Wabash Avenue to Fifth Street. In addition to the Blue and White Parade, 28 official events comprised the homecoming weekend, culminating in the football game at Memorial Stadium with Missouri State University.
The school’s annual Sycamore Bleed Blue Program yielded 168 units of donated blood, she noted.
But Saturday morning at 9 a.m., all eyes were on Wabash Avenue, and bars along the street had doors open and service going well before that hour. The annual trek from the parade to the stadium known as “The Walk” was prepared to launch, and colored T-shirts were on the backs of hundreds of ISU students.
Meanwhile, Aimee Janssen-Robinson, associate director of the wellness at ISU, had a booth loaded with muffins, Rex Coffee and orange juice as 154 students prepared for their volunteer service as Designated Walkers.
“We had over 200 students complete the training,” she said at the booth outside Clabber Girl Bake Shop. “That’s the most so far.”
Now in its fourth year, the program enlists volunteers who pledge to remain sober throughout the day so as to help navigate those that drink alcohol along The Walk. With bars along the route to the stadium wide open all morning, hundreds of students were seen consuming beer throughout the day. Drink specials were advertised on boards outside the establishments well before the 9 a.m. parade start.
Janssen-Robinson said the Designated Walker program helps maintain a safe environment for the homecoming as volunteers remain sober and able to help participants stay out of the street and get into buses if needed. The program’s inaugural year drew about 50 volunteers and has grown each fall. This year, in addition to free Pepsi, Clabber Girl muffins and Rex Coffee, participants received $10 in ISU Commons Cash, she said.
ISU students Mallory Barger and Kayla Robinson stood in line outside the registration booth, preparing to get their shirts and muffins for the day. Their first year to be involved as Designated Walkers, both said it sounded like fun. Meanwhile, the parade continued down its route and candy flew from the hands of participants.
Robinson said she was happy to be involved in the program and remarked she had yet to see any drunk and disorderly people by 9:45 a.m.
“We just want to be involved,” she said.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.