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Archive for Sunday, October 13, 2002

Fall festivities offset football loss

October 13, 2002

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It was a morning of rain ponchos and an afternoon of sweaters at Kansas University's Homecoming events Saturday, and although coffee might have been a more temperature-appropriate beverage, it was beer that flowed freely as fans waited for the football game to start.

In the end, KU lost to Colorado 53 to 29, but never mind, many seemed to say. In recent years, when KU's losses have far outnumbered its wins, the highlights of the day come not on the field, but up a ways  on the hill.

The festivities started Saturday with KU's first ever game-day parade. Normally on Friday afternoons, this year's parade drew more strollers than backpacks, as families headed up the hill while students slept in.

Kirsten Roussel, Lawrence, who watched about 40 floats go by on Jayhawk Boulevard with her family, was glad the parade was on Saturday. She had never seen the festivities before, usually because she had to work.

KU student Monica Thomas thought Friday was the better choice. A Saturday morning parade means getting up early, she said, and it's a lot to cram into one day.

Tyler Waldorf, parade co-chairman, said attendance was higher this year, even though the threat of rain probably hampered turnout.

Fraternity-sorority partners Alpha Chi Omega and Phi Kappa Tau put together the winning float. It consisted of a decorated vehicle with a Jayhawk in the back that was "waving the wheat."

As the parade was winding down, grills already were smoking for what many considered the most important part of the weekend  the tailgate parties.

Halfway through the game, Sarah Starr was back at her mini camp, snacking and talking.

A KU alumna who now lives in Arlington, Va., Starr tries to get back each year for Homecoming. But, she said, "I tell people we flew in for the tailgating, not the game."

But others, like Leawood resident Marilyn Breidenthal, still bleed the crimson and blue.

For more than 20 years, she and her friends have been gathering on the same grassy patch for tailgates that have drawn up to 150 people.

One former athletics director even joked that the "little old lady who has those big tailgates" should be the next coach, judging by how many people she was able to get to attend games, Breidenthal said.

She almost always goes to the actual game, and rarely leaves before it's over. What keeps Breidenthal going?

In a word, she said, "hope."

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