The streets near campus were crowded on Friday, Oct. 6, when hundreds of Gator fans arrived for the annual University of Florida Homecoming Parade. Each street corner was filled with lawn chairs and families who were eager to view the parade and show off their Gator pride.
The parade began at noon, and the intricate floats danced their way through University Avenue for two hours. Cheerleaders, marching bands, pageant winners and dancers were among those that were featured, each getting the fans excited for the activities the school would host through the weekend. Some floats were piled high with the school’s colors, while others stayed low on the ground with decorations like handmade alligators.
Parade-goers sported their orange and blue apparel and celebrated the home coming of UF alumni. University Avenue was filled with excited fans and street vendors who sold pizza, snow cones, Philly cheesesteaks and Gator gear.
Ron Blake has been attending UF homecoming parades since 1965, when he began his education at the University of Florida.
“I have orange and blue blood all the way,” Blake said.
Blake, his wife and his children have all received degrees from the University and now his grandson plays football for UF, he said. In addition, he held seats for his grandchildren walking in the parade.
“You do it for yourself and then you do it for your kids and then you do it for your grandkids,” Blake said.
The excitement of bringing your loved ones to the event is special, said Faith Percival, UF health education and behaviors student.
“It’s so awesome,” Percival said. “I’m the first in my family to go to college so bringing my mom here was kind of a proud moment for me.”
Near Percival stands a younger onlooker, face painted to look like a gator. The fan, Noah, 10, arrived at 10 a.m. to watch the parade with his brothers.
The family arrived early to make sure to secure good spots. The main attraction of the parade was the floats, Noah said.
“I just wanted to see what it would be like,” he added.