What seemed to be a construction site this past week was actually a float building area at 321 Fraternity Row. Two groups, Tapestry Dance Company and Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity, joined forces this year to build a "Hairspray" themed float for the Homecoming parade.
Building a float is one of the events and activities that organizations do during the Homecoming competition that lasted all Homecoming week.
All competing groups were able to start at 5p.m. Sunday but Tapestry and Pi Lambda Phi started a little bit later.
The group wanted to start on Sunday, but had to push everything back because of meetings, John Sacharok (sophomore-division of undergraduate studies) Homecoming co-chair for Pi Lambda Phi fraternity said.
Monday, Oct. 1
On Monday night, there were multiple packets of tissue paper, glue and chicken wire in the living room of the fraternity house that made the room look like an art workshop.
The Tapestry Dance Company members used the materials to build skirts for the sides of the float. The skirt that they were working on that day had the fraternity letters and said Tapestry in pink and white.
Caitlin Pfeifer (sophomore-Spanish and nutrition), a Tapestry member, was working on the float skirt with six other dancers. This year was Pfeifer's first "pomping," which is putting tissue paper on chicken wire to form letters or structures.
"My first pomping experience, it's been fun, and it's better than studying," Pfeifer said.
To keep track of the amount of work that Tapestry members were doing, the group had a signup sheet that included check in time and check out time.
On the other side of the room, Richard Lerner (senior-history), a fraternity member, was building a wood podium for the float. He had worked with PVC before but had no experience with wood. He said that working with wood requires more geometry.
Timothy Jackson (senior-energy business and finance), Homecoming co-chair for Pi Lambda Phi, was working on the float structure. It was his second time doing similar work. He also designed the float and had all the different designs in a folder.
That morning, fraternity members started putting wood on the wagon, Jackson said.
Tuesday, Oct. 2
It was a night of celebration for Tapestry and Pi Lambda Phi because the pair won the FTG Talent Show.
After the talent show, some of the dancers and fraternity members were already pomping and setting up things on the float. That night, Tapestry dancers were pomping the white and light blue skirt and a podium for the float.
While other groups in neighboring houses had more progress on floats, this group was still trying to set up everything.
For each night, the group set up goals to organize the float construction. The goal of the night was to finish constructing a hairspray can so more group members could help with building the float.
"We are a little left behind from what I expected to be," said Jackson. "I want to have everything framed out by the end of the night."
The group was confident that they would finish on time. They have built floats before, but with different groups.
Back in the living room, Kayla Miller (sophomore-biology) was working on a skirt for the back of the truck. This skirt read "PSU" and was being made of blue and white tissue papers.
Wednesday, Oct. 3
The structure of the float was mostly completed, but the group still needed to add some things and continue pomping.
A big structure started looking like a "Hairspray" "Ultra Clutch" can. Kevin Foldes (freshman-computer science) , a fraternity member, was pomping the can. This was his first time working on the float and said he had a great experience.
"It's fun, but it's time consuming. But when you get to the parade knowing that you built this, it's awesome," he said.
Back in the living room, Colleen Fleisner (junior-marketing), a Tapestry dancer, was pomping a base drum that went inside the float. She said that pomping is not hard and is a good way to bond with other people.
Fleisner said that she would be dancing the day of the parade behind the float with other Tapestry members.
At about 11 p.m. 10 people were helping with the float. Sacharok was building a madhatter with PVC. The madhatter was a large head from the Hairspray musical for one of the fraternity members to carry, Sacharok said.
The Tapestry homecoming chairs Taylor Wenner and Brianne Gring were pomping a banner that ultimately read "The Corny Collins Show" which is the show featured in "Hairspray."
The goal for the night was to try to get all the pomping done but the groups weren't sure if they would be able to accomplish it.
Thursday, Oct. 4
By Thursday, the float was mostly finished, and only a few details needed touched up. Tom Boone (freshman-mechanical engineering), a fraternity member, was working on a dial for the TV for the float. He already cut the chicken wire and was trying to make it round.
"It's not hard to do this. But when you cut chicken wire, it tends to cut you back," Boone said.
His experience working on the float was tiring because of the late nights and the tedious work. But he is still proud of what he helped do, he said.
The Homecoming committee recommended all organizations have someone guard their floats at all times to avoid vandalism. Boone guarded the float with three other fraternity members the night before the parade and stayed awake with the help of coffee and energy drinks.
In the living room, Tapestry dancers were pomping a banner that said "Hairspray."
"It was hard to do this one because we had to count each little hole to make all the letters look even," said Lauren Kolarik , Tapestry president.
Since it was the last night they had to finish the float, most of the group members worked late. Sacharok said that he would probably stay up all night finishing the float.
"There's not much left. We just have to attach some things. We have a decent amount of work, but it's not terrible," he said.
Between Tapestry and Pi Lambda Phi, 65 people worked on the float for five days, Kolarik said.
Friday, Oct. 5
A few hours before the parade, the float was finally completed after hours of late night work.
But on that morning, while taking the float to campus the pink and white skirt fell, got run over and was completely destroyed, said Nick Carroll (junior-material engineering), Pi Lambda Phi member.
Four fraternity members had to make a new skirt that morning. The new skirt said "Homecoming" and was made with green and white tissue paper.
"People were doing it all again for two or three hours. Everyone is kind of sleepy and exhausted at this time," said Carroll.
Wenner (senior-marketing and advertising) slept only an hour and a half but she was happy that the float was finally done, but sad at the same time because everything was about to end soon.
But she wasn't the only one that stayed up all night long. Sacharok had been up all night and did not take a nap like Taylor did.
Sacharok was testing a fog machine that will be inside the hairspray can to make it look like its spraying liquid.
When the group appeared in the parade, it had a madhatter which was a giant head with blue hair and a banner with the two organization's names that Jackson and Sacharok carried. And then came the float that was being pulled by a white van.
Wenner and three fraternity members rode on the float. Two of the fraternity members were dressed up as band members. One was playing a guitar, and the other was playing the drums that were made of tissue paper. Wenner portrayed the main character in "Hairspray" and another fraternity member portrayed the host of the "Corny Collins Show."
Behind the float, 15 Tapestry dancers danced to songs from "Hairspray." Kolarik danced in the parade and said she had a great experience.
"It was a great Homecoming senior parade. It was a great way for bonding with the Penn State community," Kolarik said.