From producing the nation’s largest collegiate parade, to the 39-28 win Penn State had over Northwestern, 2012 Homecoming Executive Director Bridgette Carrier said this year’s Homecoming festivities were a success.
“Everything by far exceeded my expectations and I am so happy and proud to have planned a celebration that welcomed back so many alumni,” Carrier (senior-kinesiology) said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better week, or for better weather. Everyone worked hard this year and it has been the best Homecoming that I’ve ever been a part of.”
Homecoming weekend officially kicked off with the annual Homecoming Parade, which took place at 6 p.m. Friday and made its way down West College Avenue.
Some parade-goers attended for more than just Homecoming.
“My wife and I are here to celebrate our 35th anniversary,” Bob Briczinski, Class of 1977, said. “It’s Happy Valley. You can’t go wrong, no matter what happens. I’m always excited to be here and come back.”
As the parade began, the streets of downtown State College were filled with various “We Are” chants, screams of cheer from the crowd and live music from the Penn State Blue Band, State College Area High School and Chambersburg Area High School marching bands.
The Homecoming Student Court, University Court, the Grand Marshals — Terry and Kim Pegula — and Honorary Grand Marshal, Mimi Barash Coppersmith, rode in the parade and were acknowledged by the community.
Many alumni chapters were featured in the parade, promoting the phrase “Linking the past to the present,” including the San Diego Chapter and the Vermont Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association. The Alumni Blue Band also performed as well as other Penn State performing arts groups, including the Lionettes dance team.
Gabrielle Donchez, parade director of Homecoming, said that the parade featured over 200 student organizations and between 50 to 60 floats.
“I think it was one of the greatest parades State College has ever seen,” Gabrielle Donchez (juinor-marketing) said. “It was a result of the cooperation of the organizations that took part and all of the volunteers in Homecoming and those who helped set up all day. I’m so thankful that it went so smoothly and it was incredible.”
The process of making the floats, however, was affected by vandalism in some cases, and Donchez said that the Homecoming directors are looking for better ways to make sure better measures are taken in the future to ensure that the floats remain untouched.
Donchez said 18 tires were slashed.
“It is so unfortunate because organizations work so hard for the floats to be put together and its so unfair that it happens,” she said.
Despite the vandalism of the floats, the parade awed the crowd until its end at about 8:15 p.m. From that point, many spectators began heading to the Rec Hall, where the Homecoming Pep Rally and Royalty Coronation Ceremony were set to begin at 8:45 p.m.
The Pep Rally held performances such as the Penn State Blue Band and the Lionettes Dance Team. Guest speakers head football coach Bill O’Brien, Grand Marshal Terry Pegula and Honorary Grand Marshal Mimi Barash Coppersmith, spoke about the upcoming Homecoming football game and the continued support the school and community has received.
Also at the Pep Rally, Graham Zimmerman was crowned the 2012 Homecoming King and Tracey Edouard as Homecoming Queen.
“When the announcer was pausing before he said the name, my whole body went numb, and I thought of all of the ups and downs I experienced throughout the week,” Edouard (senior-public relations and advertising) said. “I pushed myself hard and I said ‘I want this bad.’ I called my mom and broke down because I was so overwhelmed and so humbled.”
Like Edouard, Zimmerman said that he felt astonished by hearing his name announced as the 2012 Homecoming King.
“The whole night felt like a dream. When they called my name as King, I just really couldn't believe that I was going to represent the most amazing school as the 2012 Homecoming King,” Zimmerman (senior-mechanical engineering) wrote in an email. “I am incredibly humbled to be the first Homecoming King of the ‘next chapter’ of Penn State University.”
Besides being acknowledged at the ceremony, the entire Homecoming Student Court, University Court and the Homecoming executive directors were brought to the field at Beaver Stadium on Saturday afternoon during the halftime show.
The Nittany Lion, dressed in a football jersey donning the number of Shane McGregor — a football player who was a member of the student court — helped congratulate the Homecoming King and Queen, who were further recognized and shared an embrace as their new titles were again announced.
The Alumni Blue Band, which celebrated its 50th Homecoming performance, in the shape of the number 50, performed the Beatles’ song “I Saw Her Standing There.” Following the performance, the current Penn State Blue Band and the Alumni Blue Band formed the shape of the word “Lions,” and performed “Hail to the Lion,” a Homecoming tradition.