COLUMBIA — Occasional shouts of "SEC!" accompanied MU Chancellor Brady Deaton as he rolled by thousands of Tiger fans Saturday morning. But the air rang with chants of "M-I-Z...Z-O-U" from most alumni, students and families watching the MU Homecoming Parade.
Fans lined Columbia's streets as early as 7:30 a.m. to celebrate MU's 100th Homecoming parade that started at 8:30 a.m.
Taglma Boedeker and her husband rose at 5:30 a.m. to make it to the parade on time from their home in Elsberry.
"The atmosphere is so exciting," Boedeker said. "I like seeing all the black and gold."
Loud marching bands, floats and antique cars helped to fire up parade-watchers who might have been a little groggy from the early start. With temperatures in the 50s, adults stood clutching cups of coffee, while kids scrambled for candy tossed from the passing floats.
The shouts of SEC were in reference to the Southeastern Conference. The UM System Board of Curators recently gave Deaton the authority to explore options relating to Missouri's conference alignment. It is now a member of the Big 12 Conference.
"The celebration of Homecoming has expanded phenomenally," Ed Blaine said as he sat on the Varsity M Association's float waiting for the parade to start. "It's such a great tradition."
He added that he likes to think of the MU Homecoming as the first. "We can all accept that, except without trying to prove it," he said.
Blaine is an MU professor of pharmacology and a recent inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. He played professional football for the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles after ending his MU career in 1961. After his football career, he returned to MU to earn his doctoral degree in 1970.
Two alumni, participating for the first time in the parade, Rocky Streb, '82, and Allan O'Hearn, '84, chatted about seeing old friends and changes at MU.
"I'm proud to come back and see what they've done," O'Hearn said.
"Just to see the student amenities now," Streb said. "We didn't have much of that when I was a student here."
Others gathered before the parade began to eat free pancakes at the annual Brewer Breakfast at the Student Recreation Center. Fans hoped for a win Saturday as the Missouri takes on Iowa State. The football team has gotten off to a 2-3 start and is under .500 for the first time since 2004.
"I hope we get better luck than we've had lately," Mike Matzen said as he poured syrup over his fresh pancakes.
The Student Recreation Center, which was renovated and expanded in 2005, was new for some alumni. Steve Jones and his wife, Jeanne Jones, ate pancakes and joked that he would have flunked school if the Rec Center had been built in his day.
"He would have stayed here everyday instead of studying," Jeanne Jones, an alumna, said.
People gathered on the Mel Carnahan Quadrangle after the breakfast and parade to bring back a tradition lost in the 1950s, the "Romp, Chomp and Stomp Tailgate." Live entertainment and food were part of the tailgating activities honoring the 100th Homecoming anniversary.