In the middle of the homecoming festival, the crowds parted down the middle of the paved walkways and cheered loudly for the Scarlet and Gray Homecoming Light Parade.
A police car and fire engine led the parade as they idled down the walkway flashing their lights. The Rebel cheerleaders followed by chanting to the fight song that was blasting from the marching band’s instruments to introduce the decorated golf carts.
The campus golf carts were decorated with everything from holiday lights to manufactured olympian clouds to yellow submarine imagery in reference to the Beatles, with the operators dressed to match.
The first cart was manned by the university president Keith Whitfield and executive vice president and provost Chris Heavey. The bright white lights that covered the cart illuminated the way for student carts. The university officials manning the helm wore neon glasses to match the aesthetic of their cart.
Despite the glittering attraction, Whitfield said that his cart paled in comparison to the student projects that followed him.
“That’s why we have them behind us, so it just keeps getting better, and then they don’t make us look bad. You know, we don’t want to come after them and people say ‘Well, it’s not as good as students’ carts,’” Whitfield said. “I mean, this is incredible. I am so impressed.”
The rest of the parade featured floats that ranged from decorated carts to Rebel Racing off-terrain vehicles and automated snack coolers piloted by staff. At the end of the parade was several convertibles carrying this year’s Homecoming Rebel Royalty.
The Scarlet & Gray Free Press also participated in the parade. Staff decorated a cart with scarlet and gray balloons, decorative lights, streamers and issues of the newspaper covered the front of the cart.
Parade floats were judged in competition to one another before the parade started.
The winner of the competition was the float for the UNLV Graduate College and Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA). Their float was themed after the Beatles song “Yellow Submarine.”
Members of the winning team Graduate College dean Alyssa Crittenden, Virginia Smercina, Amber Eddy and Nicole Thomas each dressed as a different member of the Beatles for the parade. They said that they were surprised to win first place and that a lot of time and work went into their float.
The parade was well received by students attending the festival. Students’ favorite floats varied from person to person. Many were inspired by the festivities to step up their campus involvement.
“It made me want to be more involved, for sure,” Brittney York said, a senior majoring in psychology.
Whitfield and Heavey said they were both very happy with the festival and parade.
“We love it. I think it’s the biggest crowd ever,” Heavey said. “It’s a great new tradition. We’ve built it over the last few years and it’s totally paying off.”