Float tradition revamped for 100th

Noah Brown

Float building has a long tradition at SDSU, spanning back to the origins of Hobo Day, and the 100th anniversary of the celebration will reflect the spirit of student organizations and special entries that are up to the task of building, decorating and riding in the parade this year.

“The main thing we wanted to change this year is how the floats look,” said Erica Coomes, this year’s floats coordinator. “In the past we have had problems with students just getting a flatbed and throwing some streamers on it, and calling it a float.”

In order to help students turn their float ideas into reality, the Hobo Day Committee created the Fantastic Floats program. The program gave $1,000 grants to student organizations that applied, which allowed those groups an actual budget for supplies. The program also helped students find a location to store and build their floats, something that had been a struggle in the past for some.

Next, the program assisted student organizations in finding a flatbed trailer for the base of their floats.

“We gave them numbers of local businesses that they could rent from with the money we gave them,” Coomes said.

The SDSU Alumni Association funded the Fantastic Floats program, but eventually had to cap the number of participants due to the an unanticipated amount of interest.

“We were expecting around 12 groups to participate in the program, we had 27,” Coomes said.

35 student organizations in all have built, or are currently finishing, their floats for Hobo Day. This is slightly above average for a normal Hobo Day. Coomes is hoping that that the biggest thing spectators will notice is the quality of the floats this year.

“It’s the 100 years of Hobos, we wanted it to be bigger and better… we want them to get better, like they were in the past,” Coomes said.

The groups have a reason to spend extra time on their floats this year with the return of large felt banners that will be given to the winners in each of four categories: best Greek organization; best Student organization; most outstanding; and best residence hall.

There will also be around 30 special entry floats from outside groups like the Shriners from Sioux Falls and a few animal entries. Those floats were organized by Casey Janisch.

“It has been really interesting seeing the interest peak over the last couple months,” said Janisch. “There were people beating me to the punch trying to get ahold of me to make sure they were registered.”

On the morning of the parade, Coomes and Janisch will be up before the sun at 5:45 a.m. to organize the nearly 70 float entries along the intersection of Medary Ave. and Highway 14. Their largest responsibility on parade morning is to make sure that every entry has filled out the correct paperwork and knows the rules of the parade. The floats are not allowed to distribute anything political or religious or any materials other than candy.

The Hobo Day parade will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday morning with a forecasted high temperature of 43 degrees.