NORMAN — Parades bring out the little kid in most of us, and University of Oklahoma faculty and staff are not immune. Many of them drive fancy roadsters, convertibles or vintage classics in the annual OU Homecoming parade.
Others do other jobs, like get in a cherry picker— the metal basket at the end of a boom crane — to be lifted above the crowds.
Vice President of Student Affairs Clark Stroud, sporting a cheery crimson-striped bow tie, did just that on Saturday. Stroud has been the homecoming parade emcee for 15 or 16 years.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s my favorite thing that I get to do every year.”
Stroud said he used to emcee from street level, but he couldn’t see the bands and floats as they came his way. Now, he has a great view, perched high above the parade.
His lofty perch doesn’t make him nervous, he said. He’s having too much fun.
“I choose the music and everything,” he said.
The 2013 Grand Marshall, meteorologist Gary England, was also excited. He and his wife rode in a 1957 Chevrolet convertible. Friday, he was honored in a ring ceremony. It was a big weekend, even for a seasoned television pro like England.
“Yesterday was one of the best days of my life,” England said of the ring ceremony.
Boyd Street was lined with spectators, many of them families.
Marcy and Daniel Schuermann had brought their daughters Amelia and Norah to see the homecoming parade. It was Norah’s first parade ever. Donning pink sunglasses and outfitted in OU fan apparel, she sat quietly in her stroller, watching and waiting.
Sisters Emily and Stephanie Amorim of Oklahoma City came to the parade together for the first time. Stephanie is an OU student who loves the parade and wanted to share the experience with her little sister.
Adan Stephens is a chemical engineering grad student with a wife and two kids. A native of Mississippi, Stephens earned his undergraduate degree at Brigham Young. It’s his family’s first Oklahoma parade.
In addition to the RUF/NEKS, along with ponies Boomer and Sooner pulling the Sooner Schooner, the OU Pride, the homecoming king and queen and their court and dozens of wonderful floats built by sororities and fraternities working together, there are a few high school bands that march in the parade.
Last year’s Homecoming King and Queen, Elvie Ellis and Maggie Cannon, may have the best ride in the parade — a horse-drawn carriage.
England’s alma mater, Seiling High School band, marched in the parade Saturday.
Several university groups participated, such as future special education teachers who gave out books instead of candy, international students and the American Indian Student Association. There are 1,800 international students at OU each year, Stroud said.Those students share their culture with Norman while they are here.
The American Indian Association is celebrating its centennial year at OU, Stroud said.