Homecoming hoopla

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Thank goodness for the SEMO football team last Saturday. After a week of devastating losses -- St. Louis Cardinals, Rams, Central Tigers, Jackson Indians -- a win was needed. And the football team delivered.

Maybe it wasn't pretty (the first half was a veritable comedy of errors), but the game had more than its share of excitement.

For me, the football victory capped a beautiful homecoming weekend in Cape Girardeau. With temperatures warm, the sky a perfect blue and cool breezes dancing with vibrant autumn leaves, thousands of people lined Broadway for the university's annual homecoming parade on Saturday morning.

Police estimated 2,000 in attendance, which seemed low. Victoria and I walked the length of the parade twice, and it was the largest parade crowd I've seen. There were more students around, no doubt thanks to the pleasant weather.

One of the aspects about homecoming that makes it special is the tradition built around it: the singing of the alma mater, parades, homecoming court.

A new tradition that I hope sets root is the marching band tour of downtown on homecoming Friday night. This year, I was at a reception at Mollies when a good portion of the band and several Sundancers entered. Spirit towels were thrown to those in the restaurant, and the band began to rock. The energy went right through the roof, with customers joining in the whooping and hollering. After several minutes, the band departed, heading to its next stop.

I understand this year's tour marked the second time the band has done this. Here's one person hoping the band continues every year and makes this a new tradition.

Such events remind us how blessed we are to have a major university in our town to add spice to the daily routine.


Another event along these lines was the dance performance at Rose Theater also on Friday night, where an enthusiastic crowd gave a standing ovation to the Paul Taylor II dance company. My only regret is that this phenomenal dance troupe didn't perform to a packed house. The show was a remarkable display of physical prowess, flexibility, sexiness and grace, which left the audience abuzz long afterward.

If this is the type of show that we have to look forward to on a regular basis when the River Campus opens, we will be truly blessed.


Regarding the River Campus, the university's board of regents made a difficult decision last week not to seek to expand the number of seats at the main performance hall, which would have created another delay in beginning construction.

I understand the conflict trustees faced: The rocketing cost of steel combined with construction delays due to legal wrangling has eroded nearly $7 million of value from what the original budget could buy. One of the consequences is that the number of seats in the main performance hall has been pinched. This means that the per-seat cost for world-class shows in the future will be higher, potentially pricing out a portion of the market.

In the end, though, the right decision was made. The university doesn't have the money to expand the theater size, and it's time for the project to proceed. This doesn't mean, however, that the community can't seek creative ways to provide some lower-cost seats to future shows. Thankfully (or not), we have a few years to figure this question out.

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. He can be reached at jrust@semissourian.com or by calling 335-6611.

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