Homecoming events create busy weekend

Sunday, October 21, 2001

Thousands of people lined both sides of Broadway from Capaha Park to Main Street to watch the Southeast Missouri State University Homecoming 2001 parade pass by on a Saturday morning almost warm enough for short sleeves.

Alex and Aaron Mehner, twin 6-year-old sons of Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce president John Mehner, along with brother Austin, 11, staked out their spot early in front of the judges' stand in the 300 block of Broadway.

"This is great," Aaron said. "We've been watching the homecoming parade as long as I can remember."

Mehner, a 1981 graduate of the university, agreed it was a perfect day for the event.

The parade took about an hour and a half from beginning to end and had a total of 156 entries, which ranged from giant floats with "Toon Town" themes to marching bands, numerous pickups packed with student groups and convertibles carrying politicians, university officials, university award winners and candidates for weekend homecoming festivals.

Even Elvis took ride in a convertible. Rayford Ellis, an Elvis impersonator who appeared at a downtown club Friday and Saturday, obviously had left the building.

The parade was only a part of homecoming week activities.

Much of the activity surrounded the annual homecoming football game, this year featuring an old nemesis, Murray State University, which won 45-35.

An All Alumni Luncheon featured class members from 1941, 1951, 1961, 1971, 1981 and 1991. One of the 1951 graduates, Phil Krueger, served as parade marshal. Krueger may be a familiar name with NFL football fans -- he is a former general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Man and Woman of the Year were revealed during the halftime of the football game. Thomas Foley of St. Louis was named Man of the Year, Merideth McDowell of Sikeston, Mo., was named Woman of the Year.

Candidates had to undergo earlier interviews to demonstrate poise, personality, involvement and abilities. The purpose of the selections is to enhance school spirit, unify student groups and recognize one male and one female student for their service to the university community and for their achievement in student activities.

U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan was one of the lawmakers who participated in the parade. Also making appearances were U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson; state Sen. Peter Kinder and state Rep. Jason Crowell. Several political candidates walked or rode the route as well.

rowen@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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