Northwestern celebrates Homecoming with parade, pep rally

Mariana Alfaro, Reporter

Northwestern alumni and students gathered Friday night for the annual Homecoming parade, which featured student organizations, city groups and University departments.

More than 30 floats paraded in front of Deering Meadow, headed by the NU Marching Band and the NU football team. University President Morton Schapiro and his family rode down the street and waved at the crowds, followed by Homecoming Grand Marshal Ana Gasteyer (Communication ’89) and her family.

The parade featured several Chicago-area high school marching bands as well as student groups such as Mariachi Northwestern, whose members changed the beat of the music while they strode down Sheridan Road playing guitars and sporting sombreros.

Residential colleges and Greek organizations paraded with floats and banners designed to depict Chicago life and history, ranging from deep dish pizza, to Al Capone, to the city skyline.

“It was exciting to see students who wanted to represent their residential colleges and schools,” said Amy Glazier-Torgerson, a SESP senior who attended the event.

After the parade, the crowd moved to Deering Meadow, where the marching band played songs that covered decades from the 1950s to today, including Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” and “Y.M.C.A.” by Village People. They also surprised the crowd by dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

Schapiro took the stage to address students, alumni and their families.

“I want to keep this brief,” he said. “I want to see who wins Homecoming king and queen.”

Speaking to the Homecoming Court, he added, “You guys nervous? Yeah, you should be, it’s a big deal in your life.”

He encouraged alumni to attend Homecoming panels, parties and other events.

“I hope you’re reacquainting yourself with our beloved University,” he said.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald gave a shout out to the class of ’64, which was celebrating its 50-year anniversary.

“That team was rated number one in the country,” he said, “and that’s what we aspire to be.”

Gasteyer then stepped on the stage with the Homecoming Court. She joked with the crowd before crowning the queen and king, Communication seniors Lindsay Charles and Sean Earley.

“I was sort of hoping for a sash,” Gasteyer said. “This is the closest I’ll ever get to a Homecoming court.”

Homecoming co-chair Lakin Davis told The Daily that organizers considered Gasteyer, a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member and Broadway actress, for the role of Grand Marshal when they found out she was already expected on campus for a panel with Schapiro earlier on Friday.

“When we found out she was coming for that, we wondered if she would be willing to extend her stay on campus,” said Davis, a Weinberg senior. “When we contacted her, she was very excited for it. She ended up being a very good marshal.”

Davis said the crowd that turned out for the parade was the biggest she had seen.

Alumni and their families chatted and shared anecdotes on Deering Meadow during and after the festivities. Maureen Young (Weinberg ’86) and Steve Young (Communication ’89) said they were supporting their freshman daughter, who was playing with the marching band.

Maureen Young said her favorite NU memory was meeting Steve Young.

“I’m so delighted that our daughter is here,” she added. “We had such a good experience at Northwestern.”

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