A new take on an old tradition: Homecoming parade moving to Thursday

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Parade, set for Sept. 27, will include all fall sports teams; bonfire to be held at Owen County Fairgrounds

By Molly Haines

A decades-old tradition will be given new life this month when the Owen County High School football teams rolls through town for its annual homecoming parade.
In addition to the football team, OCHS Athletics Director T.J. Wesselman said all fall sports teams -- boys and girls soccer, boys and girls golf, volleyball and cross-country -- would each have a respective float and will be recognized during the pep rally that follows the parade on the Owen County Courthouse lawn.
While the parade will follow its usual route, beginning at the school and following Main Street through Owenton before ending on West Seminary Street, it will be held a day early on Thursday, Sept. 27, instead of on the football team’s Friday game day. Additionally, the parade will now begin at 6 p.m., instead of immediately following school dismissal.
With the changes, Wesselman said he hopes the festivities will focus more on OCHS as a whole instead of solely on the school’s football team.
“If we were going to include everybody we wanted to move the parade to an evening because when we have it after school sometimes people have trouble getting there because of their work schedule,” Wesselman said. “We felt like we were excluding student-athletes, but we also were excluding community members, fans, parents and other family members.”
A 2000 graduate of OCHS, Wesselman said a tradition that went by the wayside while he was attending college is the homecoming bonfire, which will make a comeback this year.
During his high school career, Wesselman said a bonfire was always held on the Thursday night before the football team’s homecoming game.
“Sometime between 2001 and 2005 or ‘06, they stopped doing it,” he explained. “I’m not sure what the reason was, but it just ended. I wanted to get back to doing something that was a tradition in the past; we thought it would be a fun night for everyone to hang out together and support our teams.”
The bonfire will be held at the Owen County Fairgrounds, and while geared toward students, Wesselman said any supporters that would like to attend are welcome to do so.
During the bonfire, Wesselman expects a few of the football team’s members will make a speech, as well as himself and OCHS Principal Duane Kline.
“We’ll probably have some hot dogs, drinks and maybe some stuff to make s’mores,” Wesselman added. “It’ll just be a fun night with everyone together.”
The football team is scheduled to take on Gallatin County at Patterson Field beginning at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 28.
The Owen County Alumni Association will have another surprise in store for those attending the game, according to Wesselman.
During halftime, a recognition ceremony will be held for Owen County’s former homecoming queens.
“Carol Wooten and Susan Traylor are helping me out during homecoming week, and we are bringing back all of the former homecoming queens this year,” Wesselman said. “There are 50 that are living, and we have made contact with 49 of them so far, so we’re gonna bring them back at halftime of the football game and recognize all of our former homecoming queens as kind of a tribute and just a pretty cool thing to do.”
While Wesselman said he’s sure he’ll receive some negative feedback from the changes to the parade he said he hopes the community will rally behind the decision to include more student-athletes.
“We want to make it homecoming week and not just the homecoming football game on Friday,” he said. “Maybe if they see the reason why they’ll be more understanding.”