Claire Fail, 6, claps for Marching Mizzou during the homecoming parade

Claire Fail, 6, claps for Marching Mizzou during the Homecoming Parade on Oct. 9, 2021 in Columbia. Claire was there with her two older brothers and parents.

It is Saturday morning, Oct. 22. The sun is shining on proud Mizzou fans wearing black and gold and lining the streets.

You can hear the band warming up the Mizzou fight song from a few blocks away. The Golden Girls sparkle while waving their pompoms at the fans.

It’s Homecoming weekend, and one of the largest and oldest traditions on campus is about to start: the Homecoming parade.

People from all over Missouri and the Midwest come to Columbia for the traditions, school spirit and supporting their alma mater.

And this year, a portion of the parade route will be “sensory-friendly,” for attendees who want to enjoy the festivities but don’t like loud noises or flashing lights.

The Homecoming parade is a tradition that brings all of Mizzou together. The theme of homecoming this year is black and gold, the school colors.

“It’s more special for people now because of COVID. The community knows what it is like to have things taken away suddenly, so it makes us appreciate the things we are able to do again even more,” said Matthew Rothermich, one of the Homecoming directors.

This year, the Homecoming committee has added a sensory friendly area to the parade route, along Fifth Street between Broadway and Cherry Street.

This area is for people and students who are easily overstimulated and overwhelmed by loud sounds or flashing lights. The floats and people in the parade are asked to be quieter in this area and not shout or play loud music.

“It is a great way to make the homecoming parade more inclusive and it is a really exciting opportunity for all involved,” Rotherhmich said.

Abigail Klapatsuskas, a member of the parade committee, said her younger sister Madilyn has Down syndrome and will appreciate the quieter area of the parade.

“I learned that taking Madilyn to parades can be a little discouraging, as the loud noises and flashing lights sometimes overwhelm her. I want to create an area that Madilyn could enjoy the parade from, maybe even without her noise canceling headphones,” Klapatsuskas said.

Although the floats and fire trucks will be asked to be quiet during this time, they will still engage with parade attendees by waving and smiling.

  • I am a city editor at the Missourian and an assistant professor at the Missouri School of Journalism. I help students develop, report and write their stories for publication.

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