The Norman Transcript

October 23, 2011

Parade seen from all views

By James S. Tyree
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — University of Oklahoma graduate Suzanne Delaney attended her first homecoming parade in 15 years Saturday, with two young children and University of Kansas alum husband in tow.

OU’s homecoming parade took place Saturday afternoon with no apparent problems, unlike the football game that started more than one and a half hours late due to storms with lightning.

“It’s a different realm,” Delaney said after letting her 5-year-old daughter Mia down off her shoulders. “I was a college student then and a mom now. We didn’t even realize this was homecoming weekend when we bought the tickets.”

The Delaneys drove from Sterling, Va., just outside Washington, D.C., to spend time in Joplin, Mo., and their home state of Kansas before coming to Norman.

They were in Joplin while staff and volunteers of the TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” built a home for a longtime friend of Delaney’s who lost two children and her home in the EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin on May 22 and ultimately killed 162 people.

J.R. Delaney, Suzanne’s husband, is a University of Kansas graduate who wore an Oklahoma football T-shirt for his wife.

His reaction to his act of marital diplomacy? A shrug of the shoulders and an “eh,” though he admitted earlier that wearing the crimson shirt was “painful to me.”

Mia and Ali, 8, were faring better after hauling in parade candy and enjoying a Pride of Oklahoma pre-game concert outside the Oklahoma Memorial Union.

Ellie Morgan, 4, also had an elevated view of the parade, thanks to the shoulders of her uncle, Norman firefighter Michael Rigsby.

Ellie’s face lit up and she waved when a float with weather equipment passed her, and Berrien Moore III, dean of the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences, spotted Ellie in the crowd and waved back at her.

Some grownups also viewed the parade from above. Some people were perched atop the Asp Avenue parking garage, while another group witnessed the festivities while tailgating on a Boyd Street rooftop.

“This is really good,” said Parker Milligan, 13, of Norman. “I can see a lot of things better up here.”

Dallas resident Ches Cochran was on the Boyd Street rooftop with Milligan where he, during a brief lull in the parade, lamented seeing the Physical Sciences building that stuck out on what he called an otherwise beautiful campus.

Debra Krittenbrink enjoyed seeing the “Los Angeles” float that included a swimming pool, followed by scores of students wearing sky blue shirts that appeared to symbolize the ocean off the coast.

Mallory Oathout, a Wellington, Kan., sophomore and Gamma Phi Beta member, was one of those blue-shirted students. Her sorority built the float with the Delta Upsilon fraternity and Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

“It took about three weeks to build it, including the all-night thing last night,” Oathout said. “I left, but the final touches were done by 8 or 9 this morning.”

Oathout’s shift was done early; she was able to leave at 3:30 a.m.

The homecoming theme is “Paint the Town Crimson,” so a number of floats incorporated OU people and places into other cities.

“Soonerland” replaced the famous “Hollywood” mountainside sign on the Los Angeles float, and Oathout said OU President David Boren’s house and former Sooner basketball great Blake Griffin were among the other OU touches for the City of Angels.

The blue shirts that looked like an ocean from above actually read “Paint the Town Crimson” styled in the Los Angeles Clippers colors and logo in honor of Griffin.

“I really like homecoming,” Oathout said. “With the sidewalk chalking and all the events and the floats, everybody just gets involved.”

James S. Tyree 366-3541 jtyree@normantranscript.com