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Ohio State homecoming float competition a chance for some groups to shine

FarmHouse International Fraternity members work on their float for this year's homecoming parade.  Credit: Courtesy of Brent Stammen

FarmHouse International Fraternity members work on their float for this year’s homecoming parade.
Credit: Courtesy of Brent Stammen

One Ohio State student organization is aiming to recreate the spirit of the Buckeyes’ 2002 BCS National Championship win in an unusual way.

FarmHouse International Fraternity is looking to win first place Friday at the homecoming parade with its National Championship-themed float.

“With how well the team is looking this year and our history of excellence, we wanted to do a tribute to maybe getting a national championship this year,” said Cambell Parrish, a fifth-year in strategic communication and FarmHouse member who is involved with constructing of the float. “This year, the elements included (in our float) are Brutus in the stadium hoisting up the National Championship crystal (trophy) and he is going to be kissing it, just like all the coaches and players do after they win.”

The fraternity won first place at the parade last year.

The floats are judged as the parade is taking place using a 15-point rubric to determine the first, second and third place winners, which receive monetary prizes and trophies, said Jenna Mackey, a fourth-year in accounting and economics and the logistics chair for the homecoming parade.

“The prizes are $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place and $250 third place,” Mackey said. “Five points are for creativity, five points for overall polish — how well it comes together — and then five points are for Ohio State spirit and representation of homecoming.”

Participation in the parade and float building supply kits are free for all internal organizations, Mackey said.

“Student organizations that want to build floats can apply to get supply kits, so we have 21 supply kits going out to student organizations,” Mackey said. “They will be assisted with supplies, tools and construction by Facilities Operations and Development and other student organizations.”

The kits cost $231 each, paid for out of the homecoming parade budget and not including the cost of paint and “extra pomps” given out as needed, Student Life specialities group supervisor James Smithson said in an email. He added some of the cost is offset by supplies that aren’t used and are returned.

The parade budget is funded by the Office of Student Life and from various donors, Mackey said.

The homecoming parade is expected to have about 65 participating entrants, including student organizations, the OSU Marching Band and the vehicles that will carry the homecoming court, Mackey said.

“Of those entries we have about 25 actual floats, and then we have a number of groups that will just be walking with a banner,” Mackey said. “There is really a diverse range of participants.”

The parade is set to have about 35 vehicles, which will carry the Columbus campus homecoming court and others including Interim President Joseph Alutto, Vice President of Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston and John Davis, a distinguished alumnus who will be the grand marshal of the parade, Mackey said.

FarmHouse placed first last year in the float competition with a float dedicated to the tradition of the OSU Marching Band.

“Brutus the Buckeye was standing in a stadium and he was a sousaphone player dotting the ‘i.’ Brutus would bend up and down as the ‘i’ dotter does after he dots the ‘i,’” Parrish said.

Last year’s win helped to motivate FarmHouse to improve their design, Parrish said.

“Each year we are extremely competitive with it,” Parrish said. “By no means do we win it every year, but we always try to finish toward that upper end. It’s a great way to show school spirit and a great way to showcase our fraternity. I think each year what motivates us is to do a little bit better than the year before.”

Parrish said FarmHouse does not have a specific process for construction.

“(Float construction) is basically on the fly as we are putting things together … there is a background there, but it is not an extremely scientific process,” Parrish said. “It is more of an organic thing … it usually takes a couple of potential fixes to actually get it right.”

Other organizations have had similar difficulties making their designs a reality.

“Day one, the biggest challenge was getting our design down,” said George Williams, a fourth-year in dentistry and a member of the College of Dentistry Student Government Association, which came in second place in the 2012 parade. “What we had on paper wasn’t necessarily working out so we were kind of figuring it out as we went.”

The parade is set to proceed from Ohio Stadium to the Ohio Union, Mackey said.

Hearing the cheers and seeing the awe on the faces of the crowd during the parade is one of the best rewards for the members of FarmHouse, Parrish said.

“That makes it worth all the time and effort that we put in,” Parrish said. “It is a really good feeling that we have afterwards … it’s definitely one of our favorite things that we do throughout the year.”

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