Homecoming parade back in Gladstone

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GLADSTONE — Gladstone residents — young and old — will feel Braves spirit this week with the first homecoming parade held in the city in 19 years.

The parade makes its return as the school district moves away from the tradition of decorating the high school’s halls during the week-long homecoming festivities. While the hall decorations were immensely popular with both students and the community, the paper and other flammable decorations created a fire hazard that was noticed by the area’s new fire marshall after a television news spot on the decorations last year.

“Ever since the new high school opened — I believe the second year — they started doing hall decorating, and it was never brought to anyone’s attention, but in hindsight it was very obvious that it was a fire hazard,” Gladstone School Board President Steve O’Driscoll told the Gladstone City Commission Monday night.

Prior to the hall decorations, the school held a parade with student-built floats. However, because the district didn’t have an appropriate place for the students to build these floats on school property, students were poorly supervised during the building periods and the parade was riddled with disciplinary issues.

“With the advent of buying our own bus garage at the end of 13th Street, we had a building where all four classes — much like Escanaba builds theirs at the fairgrounds — were able to build in one building. Chaperones are there the entire time that they’re there,” said O’Driscoll, who has spent time at the bus garage with the students.

The response from the community and the students has been positive. Multiple commissioners noted they missed the parades from their own time as Gladstone High School students.

“It’s been a great experience for the kids and the district (getting) around to having a homecoming parade again,” said O’Driscoll.

This year, the parade will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and travel from the intersection of 13th Street and Minneapolis Avenue, down Minneapolis Avenue to the football field. It is possible the route will be extended in future years, but both the city and the district felt it was prudent to shorten the route for the first year.

Once the parade reaches the football field, a community cookout similar to the one traditionally held at the high school will take place. Hot dogs will be served and a bonfire is planned.

“It’s very much the same event that was up at the high school,” said O’Driscoll.

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