Story by Kristina Hoti
Warwick Valley High School (WVHS) students and staff, and members of the community came out in full purple and gold array on Sat., Sept. 15 for the 47th Annual Homecoming Day Parade. Crowds gathered in excited anticipation, starting as early as 11 a.m., for the parade’s 12 p.m. start.
The judges’ panel, comprised of elected officials and members of the School Board, gathered at the bandstand in front of TD Bank on Main St. Judges were prepared with pre-printed scoring sheets to view and rate the colorful, themed floats. Students participating in the homecoming float-building tradition worked in the bus garage after school and in the evenings, during the entire “spirit week” preceding the Homecoming Parade.
This year, the themes for each float were of different decades: ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. The “decades” theme was decided by the Student Council and each class chose their preferred decade in order, starting with the senior class. The freshman class represented the ‘60s, sophomores the ‘90s, juniors the ‘80s, and seniors the ‘70s. Judges are given a rubric whereby points are awarded for the following categories: creativity, beauty, presentation, banners, movement, costumes, theme relevance, and wow factor.
Freshman Bella Pizza, senior Paige Kent, and freshman Maya Beiling all waited together for the parade to start, sporting Warwick football shirts and gold beads. The girls were all looking forward to the parade and to the Homecoming Dance that evening.
“There will be more people attending this year, since they made it semi-formal,” said Beiling.
Seniors Juliet Hennessy, Kelly McCullough, and Angela Koulikov all agreed that they were both happy and sad about this being their last year at WVHS and that Homecoming would be among what they will miss most.
“It is one of the most fun weeks of school,” said Hennessy, who hopes to attend SUNY Fredonia’s dance program after graduation.
An Important Acknowledgement During Homecoming’s ‘Spirit Week’
Spirit week is a time for the school to show their pride on each day leading up Homecoming by dressing in pre-assigned themes for school each day. President of the Homecoming Club and Homecoming Queen, WVHS senior Madeleine Wadeson made a special change to this year’s theme days. Since spirit week always falls over Sept. 11, she requested that this date always be “America Day.”
She said, “I felt that it was important to honor the sacrifice that so many have made for our country by having the whole school show their American pride on a day in which nationalism united us as a nation. I was especially inspired by my grandpa, a Vietnam Veteran and 9/11 survivor, who also marched in the parade as part of the color guard.”
At approximately 12 p.m., the parade made its way down Main St. towards the judge’s stand, after its kick-off from the bus garage on County Rte. 1. VFW Post 4662 members David Bishop and Carmine Garritano opened the parade as color guard, presenting both the American and V.F.W. Post 4662 flags. VFW member Don Grenier also marched with the color guard. Following the color guard was the WVHS band, under the direction of Chris Persad. After approaching the judges’ bandstand, they marched in a round-about formation and performed the upbeat “Forget You” by CeeLo Green.
The hour-long parade, bursting with energy, purple and gold flair, and lots of laughter and smiles, was additionally comprised of marchers representing the Warwick Valley Teachers’ Association, Park Avenue and Sanfordville Elementary school teachers and students, the WVHS Wire Choir under the direction of E’Lissa Jones, the members of the student-elected homecoming court, varsity and junior varsity volleyball, soccer, tennis, and cheer teams, and of course, the class floats.
Decades-Themed Class Floats
The Freshman Class float, decked out in the colorful, swirling, flowers of the 1960s, featured a Beatles album cover and the word “LOVE” spelled out, using both a peace sign and a football. Brooke Datys and Ainsley Goldman stood atop the float, while colorfully clad dancers performed at the street level for the judges.
Closely behind the freshman float came the Homecoming Parade Grand Marshal, WVHS English teacher Nick DiLeo, leading the way for the Warwick Valley Teachers’ Association directly behind him.
DiLeo later said, “I am so excited and flattered to be chosen by the students of WVHS to be the grand marshal. Thank you to everyone for this honor.”
The sophomore class represented the 1990s, depicting the popular ‘90s television sitcom, Friends, with their float scene and sporting a banner stating, “The One Where They Were Sophomores; Season: Football, Episode: 2018,” in a clever take on the show’s episode title format.
Banners were carried using the Seinfeld logo with popular catch phrases, and students on the float were dressed as the characters Joey and Phoebe from Friends. Nineties-born television icons, The Simpsons, Beevis and Butthead, and the Nickelodeon network were also featured on the sophomore float, which bore the name “Warwick Perk,” and sported a couch, coffee table, and many oversized coffee mugs.
The 1980s came next, as the junior class used banners taunting the Homecoming Game visitors with, “Hey FDR! Gag Me with a Spoon, Warwick is Gonna Be Totally Awesome!” Complete with a Rubik’s Cube, live-action Pacman game, over-sized boom box, spinning MTV logo, and flanked by “Eliot” from ET riding his bike alongside, any ‘80s child in the crowd could feel the nostalgia.
Finally, the seniors stole the show, earning first place from the judges, and representing the 1970s. With nods to the movies “Rocky,” and “Jaws,” the “pet rock” fad, and the famous “Battle of the Sexes” 1973 Riggs vs. King tennis match, the senior float brought together a great many cultural aspects of their chosen decade.
Senior classman Willie Odell, impersonating Freddie Mercury and lip-syncing to the music of Queen, performed under a disco ball with a rendition of the Saturday Night Fever dance floor erected behind him. Ryan DiConstanzo, also a member of the Homecoming Court, Ethan Tuomala, and Tom Dunnigan joined Odell in performing a skit, including a dance routine, depicting Warwick beating FDR (represented by Tuomala, braving the heat in a three-piece suit). FDR defeated, the float was carried away to the song, “We are the Champions,” in a final dramatic pantomime by Odell.
Buses awaited parade participants in the lower CVS parking lot to transport students and teachers back to the school campus, where the Homecoming Football Game against FDR High School, of Brooklyn, was played. Warwick defeated FDR in a crushing 33-7 victory. Members of the Homecoming Court, along with the Grand Marshal, took the field at half-time for the awarding of each place category for the class floats. Seniors took first place, with juniors coming in second, and freshman pulling ahead of the sophomores by earning third place.