Burgers to fly at Friday’s parade

Sarah Yaacoub

If you happen to see burger patties whirling through the air or precarious bubbling lawn mowers rolling by your feet at the Homecoming parade, do not be alarmed. It is the Ogden College float that’s coming your way.

Homecoming is an annual week of fun and festivities for WKU students and staff, with activities ranging from luncheons to tailgating to intramural sports, and of course culminating in the big game. The Homecoming parade, held this year on Friday night, is among the most anticipated and prepared-for events of the series. It is a night filled with performances from the WKU Marching Band and floats prepared by the different colleges and organizations of WKU.

Of all the floats at the parade, one stands out to most onlookers: the Ogden College float, which consists of a man on a trailer with a smoking grill throwing burgers at predetermined people—mostly faculty and alumni—along the route. Ogden faculty pushing plastic bubble mowers and push lawnmowers get in formation and perform drills at the shrill call of a whistle from the grilling man. When the trailer reaches the square, it stops to serve burgers to students and faculty members, who can adorn their sandwiches with the condiments available.

This routine is known the Ogden College Precision Grill and Drill Team, and it is by now an annual tradition at the parade. The idea was created in 2009 by Bruce Kessler as an innovative way to combine a love of grilling with comedian Dave Barry’s description of the Lawn Rangers, a precision power lawn mower drill team.

Although many new students often seem confused by the unlikely Homecoming scene, it has become a crowd favorite over the years. Unlike a traditional float, the trailer isn’t heavily decorated. It is simply preceded with a banner announcing it. Then the lawn mower drill team proceeds to add the flair.

Kessler is the man at the grill, and he has been since the start of the Grill and Drill Team. He said the absurdity of the idea is part of the fun—seeing the department head of mathematics grilling in the middle of the parade, flanked by professors and their mowers, is a sight unique to the Ogden College float at the homecoming parade.

“We do have a great time…people really seem to enjoy the ridiculousness of having lawnmowers in the parade,” said Kessler.

Among the other Ogden staff organizing the float is Melanie Redden. Redden, a communications specialist at Ogden College, is in her first year helping with the Grill and Drill Team, and she said the involvement of the faculty adds to the hilarity of the float.

“It’s so funny for the students because they see their biology, chemistry and math professors pushing lawnmowers through the parade,” Redden said.

Reporter Sarah Yaacoub can be reached at [email protected] and 270-745-2655. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahyaacoub1.