By Audrey Seilheimer
It was a slow, overcast cloud front that moved in grey billows across the Village of Vicksburg as people began lining up for the 5 p.m. Homecoming Parade October 6. A slow drizzle did not deter anyone. Viewers stood under awnings and overhangs along storefronts of village businesses.
Each table in front of Jaspare’s and other places in the social district was filled as people sat under umbrellas and canopies, sipping Oktoberfest beer from the Distant Whistle and other drinks from nearby establishments. Some folks wore winter coats. Some were still wearing shorts!
Dustin, Olivia and Stella Jennings came down to see the parade, even though they had no students in the procession. “Vicksburg is such a nice place for our family to enjoy things like this. All of the community events are happy. We both feel fortunate to be here and we’re raising our family here. It’s just a really good fit for us because of how friendly, inclusive and positive the community is, but it’s not far from things near the city,” Mrs. Jennings said. “It’s got its own vibe.”
My son, a fifth grader, ran off with a couple of his school friends to the other side of the street because “that’s where the most candy will be given out,” one friend had advised him. His buddy came prepared with a plastic bag, and my son pulled out his deep sweatshirt pockets to show he had a place to stash the anticipated sugary loot. This was his first homecoming parade, so he wasn’t sure what to expect.
The Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce president, Nick DeVito, owner of Nick’s Barbershop a few doors down, had dressed and placed a life-sized Ninja Turtle as a Bulldog football player outside his shop. Another tiny parade-goer spotted it and was overcome with excitement; he had a similar action figure in his hands. “This Ninja Turtle traveled across the county to be here in Vicksburg!” Nick explained as he generously moved it for the child to get a fist bump and a closer look.
At 5, we heard the marching band as it rounded the corner and turned onto Main Street.
Following the band and color guard, floats from each of the Vicksburg High School classes came down the street. Freshman through senior classes competed by decorating four wheelers or golf carts, expressing this year’s homecoming theme: Fast Food Chains. Then cars and trucks passed by, holding homecoming court couples, waving from under umbrellas at parade-goers.
Each age group of the Vicksburg Rocket Football Program was represented, along with other sports such as the volleyball team and cheerleaders of every age. Local companies and businesses sponsored large trucks which towed football themed floats featuring different professional teams, including the Detroit Lions, with a giant, plush stuffed lion gracing the top of one of the vehicles.
A fire engine from South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority’s fleet sounded its horn, making everyone jump back and applaud.
You could really feel the homecoming spirit and smalltown pride under the umbrellas on a damp Friday night in October.