A chilling wind did not deter thousands of Kansas University supporters from turning out Friday afternoon for KU's Homecoming parade, which was held on campus for the first time in eight years.
"We've been trying to get it back here for a year, and it's real exciting to finally see it up here," said Rob Bletscher, Student Alumni Assn. homecoming chairman.
For the first time since 1983, the homecoming parade wound down Jayhawk Boulevard, passing several thousand students and area residents.
From 1984-1990, the parade had been downtown.
Bletscher and other organizers said they were glad the parade had returned on campus because more students could get into the spirit of homecoming.
He said more than 30 floats, marching bands and displays were represented in this year's parade, which began at the Chi Omega Fountain and traveled on Jayhawk Boulevard to the Kansas Union.
The parade, sponsored by the Student Alumni Assn., Student Union Activites and the Board of Class Officers, lasted about 30 minutes.
AN ESTIMATED 10,000 to 12,000 people attended, KU police Lt. John Mullens said.
During a pep rally before the parade began, KU football coach Glen Mason told the crowd in front of Wescoe Hall to be patient with KU's football program.
"The one group who has always stood by me is our students," Mason said, adding that the last two KU football games were heartbreaking losses. Kansas has a football record of 3-2.
"We have not been beaten by a team this year, we have beaten ourselves. I'm sitting on a good ball team right now," he said. "The only thing I urge is just hang in there a little bit longer for us. If we don't beat ourselves, we'll beat the hell out of the (Iowa State) Cyclones," Mason said, bringing cheers from the crowd.
The KU-Iowa State football game will be played today at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is 1 p.m.
FOLLOWING Mason's remarks, the parade proceeded along Jayhawk Boulevard with local radio personality Max Falkenstien announcing each entry.
Also announced during the parade were this year's winners of the EX.C.E.L. Award, a new student-funded $500 undergraduate award that recognizes leadership.
Margaret Hu, Manhattan junior, and Louie Lopez, Kansas City, Kan., senior are this year's recipients.
An EX.C.E.L. awards committee selected Hu and Lopez from among 12 finalists, six men and six women. Finalists were chosen on the basis of leadership and communication skills, involvement in the KU community, academic scholarship and ability to work with a wide variety of students and student organizations.
AS ONE WOULD expect, Big Jay, one of KU's mascots entertained the crowd gathered Friday afternoon on campus.
"I hope they keep it (the parade) up here," Big Jay said.
"I really get excited when I get in this (costume). It kinda gives you a license to go nuts," said the mascot, who is being played by a male student from Hutchinson majoring in pharmacy.
Parade entry winners in various categories included: floats with moving parts, first place Theta Chi and Delta Delta Delta; floats with non-moving parts, first place Sigma Nu and Alpha Delta Pi; non-musical marching units Black Student Union; musical marching units KU Band; decorated vehicles St. Lawrence Catholic Center; and billboards Sigma Pi business fraternity.