Hobo Day a major political operation

Adam Zobel

Adam Zobel

The University Program Council made a major move for this year’s Hobo Day parade by allowing political candidates to participate as a part of the campus political organization’s float entry.

The change in the rules was quite evident Saturday as most of the major statewide candidates were present in the annual parade and both major campus political organizations played a large role in energizing the large number of parade spectators.

Previous parade rules only allowed candidates to ride on the campus organization’s float entry or ride in a dignitary car. If the candidate was to be in the parade as a dignitary, only SDSU-provided signs were allowed on the vehicle. The new rules allowed the candidates to have their own campaign vehicle and walk in the parade route as long as they were directly behind the campus organization’s entry.

Political campaigning had been restricted in the past, as the Hobo Day parade has traditionally been a marching band competition and concerns had been raised about participant safety and maintaining the flow of the parade.

Twenty high school bands, along with the Pride of the Dakotas and the Brookings Middle School marching bands, participated in this year’s parade.

Hobo Day Grand Pooba Abby Bischoff said, “The only way they (political candidates) can campaign is by being sponsored by a campus political organization.”

Bischoff said that the UPC chose to be proactive in making the rule change due to the high-profile nature of this year’s election. After making the decision, the UPC forwarded it through the campus policy channels before President Miller made the change final.

Even with the changes this year, some minor candidates still chose to ride in dignitary vehicles; however, each of the major candidates for governor and congress participated in the parade with their respective campus political organization. The presence of the major candidates, particularly U.S. Senate candidates Tim Johnson and John Thune, helped energize the spectators and attracted the attention of several new cameras.

The College Democrat entry consisted of three vehicles and an entourage of more than 40 students, candidates, family members and campaign workers. The showcase of their entry was the presence of gubernatorial candidate Jim Abbott, U.S. Senator Johnson and U.S. House candidate Stephanie Herseth.

While Abbott and Johnson waved and walked the parade route, Herseth moved around and personally greeted the parade attendees.

The vehicle decoration process for the College Democrats focused on the theme Operation: Preserving South Dakota. Their theme was painted onto large camouflage banners on each side of their lead vehicle. Sara Landau, president of the College Democrats, said, “We wanted to incorporate the candidates into our theme.”

Regarding the rule changes, College Democrat Molly Lefholz said, “It’s an improvement because candidates have more flexibility. Hobo Day is about celebrating homecoming and getting people involved.”

The level of participation was high as a result of the rule changes and the high-profile nature of this election. College Democrat Rachell Weaver said, “I think it’s exciting to have the candidates here.”

The College Republican entry featured a float plus four vehicles; their entourage consisted of at least 50 people. Gubernatorial candidate Mike Rounds and U.S. Congressman Thune were the highlight of the Republican procession as they greeted the thousands of people in attendance. Governor Bill Janklow, candidate for the U.S. House, was not present at Hobo Day.

The College Republicans followed the Hobo Day theme with their float entitled “GOP Camp.” Many of the float participants wore blue camouflage pants and they helped facilitate the distribution of 2000 blue camouflage bandanas promoting Thune’s Senate candidacy. Most of the bandanas had been given out before their entry reached Sixth Street.

Nicole Christopherson, president of the College Republicans, said that she had to work with the UPC in order to facilitate the parade and follow the rules. She then had to coordinate the parade planning with each of the candidates and their campaigns. Fortunately, the hard work paid off with a successful parade.

Christopherson said, “We had a good turnout of College Republicans. We got the crowd pumped up and it was an exciting parade for us as we had Thune, Rounds and a bunch of other candidates present.”

College Republican Jessica Nordquist said, “It was so much fun to see the energy in the crowd.”

Chris Rounds, College Republican and son of gubernatorial candidate Mike Rounds, said, “I’m happy that all the candidates can participate.”

Some organizations expressed hope that the policty to allow candidates would continue.

Christopherson said, “I think UPC made a good change as it promoted more candidate participation.”

#1.887934:548279419.jpg:johnson.jpg:Sporting his SDSU sweatshirt, Senator Tim Johnson, D-SD, shakes hands and makes conversation at the Hobo Day Parade. Johnson is seeking re-election in a still-tight race against Representative John Thune, R-SD. Both candidates, as well as other office seekers from both parties, attended the weekend?s festivities, each hoping to solidify their standing in the polls leading up to the Nov. 5 election.: