Greek studetns reveal secrets of Homecoming parade floats

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COLUMBIA - Two-by-fours, nails, and power tools decorate the parking lot. Paint, paper mache, and glitter stain the ground. For Greek MU students, these are the signs of Homecoming parade float construction.

"We have a hat that's being built, we have a backdrop that's and then we have moving parts," said Callie McLaurin. "It's a very detailed float this year, so we're really excited."

McLaurin serves as Delta Delta Delta's Homecoming Liaison. She said her sorority and their partner fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, have been planning the 2014 Homecoming float since last spring. As the 103rd Homecoming and 175 years since the University of Missouri's founding, members from the pairing said they stepped construction up a notch to honor the landmark year.

Garrett Smith is one of Alpha Epsilon Pi's float builders. He said he's been building since he was a kid.

"I just so happened to grow up next to 2 kids who love to work on stuff, had shops in their backyard with a ton of tools," Smith said. "So I learned from a young age."

But even Smith learned some new tricks. This year's float uses hydraulics to fuel four moving parts. The float is 10 feet tall, 21 feet long and pulled by an enormous, green, John Deer tractor.

As the floats become larger than life, so do the special guests. Members of Mizzou's Homecoming Parade Committee said the parade's grand marshalls this year are descendants of the University founders. Committee member Carly Wooldridge said bringing Tigers in from out of town, and inviting both young and old, makes the parade particularly special.

"There's obviously the game, there's obviously the blood drive, but those are heavy student run, student involvement," Wooldridge said. "I love the parade because all of the kids of Columbia come and all of the families and they have their cute little Mizzou outfits. It's definitely just the most inclusive part for the community."

At the end of the day, both steering committee members and Greek students said value the joy the parade brings to the Columbia community each year.

This year's parade begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at the corner of Tiger and Maryland Avenues.