Pomp or circumstance

MU Homecoming participants won’t let the weather rain on their parade
Friday, October 24, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:55 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The forecasted rain and cold may put a damper on some Homecoming celebrations, but the festivities will go on.

Andy McCarthy, a Homecoming co-director, said “something drastic would have to happen for it to be canceled.”

“It is a time-consuming task, and we’re going to follow through with it no matter what,” McCarthy said. “Organizations put a lot of time and effort into it all.”

The National Weather Service in St. Louis said Thursday evening a steady rain would begin this afternoon and continue into Saturday morning. The temperature will also drop.

This type of weather forecast is familiar news for Homecoming participants.

With rain the last two years, members of Greek houses have gotten to be old hands at dealing with the weather. They still compete in the annual House Dec competition and participate in the Homecoming parade even though their floats have been ruined in the past by rain before the end of the parade.

“The show must go on,” said Chris Rolf of FarmHouse fraternity. “If it rains, there’s nothing we can do.”

Some precautions are taken, however, in preparing for the House Dec competition. Like many Greek houses, a blue tarp hangs outside the FarmHouse fraternity to protect its Homecoming decorations from the rain.

Also, the decision this year to save time and money by not pomping — decorating with tissue — the Homecoming floats will pay unintended dividends. Most of the houses have used waterproof paint on their floats instead of tissue paper.

The many marching bands in the parade may not be so lucky.

“The brass instruments are durable,” said Steve Williams, the band director at Rock Bridge High School. “The real problem is the percussion and woodwind instruments.”

A woodwind instrument may have 25 or more felt pads that seal holes. If these pads are ruined by rain, the seal does not close completely and air leaks cause the instrument to play poorly. Unfortunately, for band members to have access to the instruments’ keys, it is impossible to keep their instruments covered in bad weather.

Williams said that bands must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of performing in the rain. Some bands, like Rock Bridge, will brave the rain to support their team.

People, like instruments, also don’t always fare well in the rain.

In last year’s parade, Kate Gildner portrayed Glenda, the good witch from the Wizard of Oz. She was dressed only in a blue prom dress and black leggings, so the rain, wind and cold kept her inside as much as possible.

She said she went into the business school to “thaw.”

But once the parade began, Gildner, like the Homecoming floats, was at the mercy of the weather.

“I could see people on the sides of the street mouthing, ‘She must be so cold,’” she said.

Even if it does rain, the mercury isn’t expected to fall as low as it did last year. Along with last year’s rain and drizzle, the temperature never broke out of the 40s, which is well short of October’s average high temperature of 64 degrees. The temperature Saturday is forecasted to be in the 50s.

But rain is still no fun no matter what the temperature. If it does fall, McCarthy suggests watching the parade from under the awnings of shops downtown or looking out from Memorial Union.

Of course, that could all change by Saturday.

“Dress in layers,” said Lynette Reed, a Homecoming co-director. “You never know what will happen in Missouri.”

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