Road work reroutes Hobo Day parade

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

Construction on Main Avenue is forcing this year’s Hobo Day parade to follow an alternative route.

Grand Pooba Bethany Wuttke, a senior human development and family studies major, said this year’s parade will turn south from Sixth Street one block sooner than usual, at Fifth Avenue, to avoid the Main Avenue construction. The rest of the parade route, though, will remain the same.

The parade will still start on Medary Avenue, near the U.S. Highway 14 overpass, head south on Medary until Sixth Street, turn to the west on Sixth and then head south on Fifth Avenue until Third Street.

“[The route change is] unfortunate, but we’ll make it work. Hobo Days will still be Hobo Days,” said Wuttke, who knew before summer started that the route would have to be changed.

Jackie Lanning, Brookings city engineer, said the city looked at having the $3.9 million Main Avenue project done by Hobo Day, but due to some setbacks and the date of Hobo Day, the city knew that goal was unrealistic.

“We tried to identify if it could be completed by Hobo Days, but we knew we weren’t going to be able to meet that date,” she said.

Right now, the city is looking at an Oct. 30 completion deadline for the Main Avenue project, which started during the last week of May. The project extends from Sixth Street to just north of Front Street and is focusing on creating plaza effects and making downtown Brookings more pedestrian friendly.

Lanning said there is also some additional sidewalk work being done on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fourth Street, but that project should not affect the new parade route.

Another aspect of Hobo Day activities that will need to be modified due to the downtown construction is Paint the Town. In this activity, students go to downtown businesses and decorate the storefronts in the year’s Hobo Day theme. Wuttke said she is currently looking for ways to continue the Paint the Town tradition.

Though the modifications of the parade and Paint the Town activities may diminish the “downtown feel” of the parade, Wuttke said the spirit of Hobo Day will still prevail.

Andrew Walters, a senior construction management major, and V.J. Smith, former director of the Alumni Association, both agreed.

“I think it will be an interesting change of events that won’t really affect the enthusiasm of the parade or the observers,” said Walters, who is also the security coordinator of the Hobo Day Committee.

“I think the students will be caught up in the events enough where they won’t care where the parade route goes.”

From the alumni standpoint, Smith said some SDSU graduates might be disappointed if they have a special tradition downtown during the parade or have stood in the same spot year after year. Still, he said he thinks that overall the alumni will be accepting of the route change.

“I think the alumni are pretty pragmatic people. They’ll understand and they can adjust to the change,” he said.

“The spirit of the Hobo Day is not the floats, not the parade or one particular thing,” Smith continued. “With the alumni, it’s, ‘Hey, I’m a Jackrabbit from SDSU.'”

Activities for this year’s Hobo Day will start Sept. 29 and culminate Oct. 4 with the Jacks football game against McNeese State at 2 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. The theme is Hobos Get Physical, a play off the opening of the Wellness Center.