Homecoming parade hits up Central Park

On Thursday evening, Grinnell hosted its annual homecoming parade in Central Park, which started at 5:30 p.m. The celebration, which is sponsored by the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce, presented an opportunity for students in the town of Grinnell to represent their classes, schools and sports teams. Local businesses and nonprofit organizations also took part in the parade and showed their enthusiasm by throwing candy and engaging with onlookers.

The Grinnell Fire Department rides through downtown Grinnell at the homecoming parade. Photo by Sydney Steinle.

The Grinnell Fire Department rides through downtown Grinnell at the homecoming parade. Photo by Sydney Steinle.

The homecoming parade is itself a celebration of the Grinnell-Newburg High School Tigers football team’s home game against the Oskaloosa Indians. The game will take place today at 7 p.m. on the high school field. Continuing the celebration, the high school will host a “Hollywood Homecoming” themed dance on Saturday night. 

Emily Counts, the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce tourism director, sees the event as a boost for community engagement. 

“It’s typically a big deal in many communities like this,” Counts said. “It’s a good time, it’s a great community event that really adds to the vibrancy of downtown and the quality of life here by having fun stuff like [the parade].”

Grinnell-Newburg High School’s band played a prominent role in leading the parade, showcasing their marching uniforms and their pride for the Grinnell Tigers. Also parading through town were the candidates for Grinnell-Newburg High School homecoming king and queen. Five men and five women were nominated by the school for the two titles. The final vote count will be announced on Saturday night to attendees at the homecoming dance.

For Grinnell College students, the parade can provide a new kind of small-town experience. It is an important facet of the town’s culture.

“There are so many people and it’s a really cool experience to be in downtown Grinnell and be part of the crowd and you get lots of freebies usually,” Counts said.

The town skating club also wheeled their way down the parade route. The parade lined up near Central Park, traveled north on Broad St. to 5th Ave., then west to Main St., made its way south to 4th Ave. and finally back east towards Central Park.    

In addition to the parade, there were other opportunities for high school students to show pride for their town. There was a window-painting contest between the high school grades—each class painted a different window of one of the businesses downtown.

“The high schoolers also do window-painting contests at some of the businesses downtown. I know the freshmen are painting the windows down at Gamers. So they do have judges and they get a small prize—that’s an extra school pride thing they do for homecoming,” Counts said.

The festivities did not end when the marching stopped. After the parade, Central Park hosted a pep rally during which the high school cheerleading and dance teams performed alongside the marching band. Parents, students and townspeople all had the chance to join in the celebration. 

Fancy cars join in the homecoming parade festivities. Photo by Sydney Steinle.

Fancy cars join in the homecoming parade festivities. Photo by Sydney Steinle.

During the performance, the Grinnell-Newburg Dollars for Scholars campaign held a hot dog dinner to raise funds for seniors graduating from the Grinnell-Newburg school district. The event, titled “Dogs for Dollars,” provided a free meal for each donation. The scholarships are doled out at an awards dinner in the spring and are meant to support students in their pursuit of higher education. Last year, the organization awarded 36,800 dollars to 96 graduating seniors. 

The parade was an opportunity for people in the town of Grinnell to gather and celebrate the football team, the high school homecoming court and a plethora of other organizations that call Grinnell home.