Greeks share a week of float building, camaraderie

Members of Alpha Gamma Delta create pompoms from tissue paper for their Homecoming float. An estimated 10,000 pieces of tissue paper will be formed into pompoms for the parade floats. Matt Lunsford/HERALD

Brittiny Moore

Bright lights emanated from the boarded-up windows, and sounds of upbeat music vibrated through the building’s walls. From the outside, it seemed there was a party going on.

Inside, however, Greek students from the WKU chapters of the Sigma Phi Epsilon and FarmHouse fraternities and the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority sat in circles surrounded by multicolored tissue paper.

This was not a party; it was the building site of a Homecoming float.

Homecoming floats have been a part of WKU history since the 1930s, Charley Pride, the director of Student Activities and Organizations, said.

The process of designing a Homecoming float lasts longer than the week of assembling it.

Paducah sophomore Chloe Hohlbein, the AGDs’ activities officer, said preparation for making a float occurs months before Homecoming arrives.

“We have to order several hundred dollars’ worth of tissue paper, and there’s not a good way to know how much to order,” Hohlbein said. “Then you have to find a float site, which can be difficult because there are only so many people who are going to let 200 college kids come in for a week.”

Hohlbein added that coming up with a design for this year’s “Under the Big Top” theme has been difficult.

Walking through the site, there was no shortage of glue, hair spray and pompoms, called “pomps,” which are all resources used to construct the float.

Nearly 20 trash bags and 15 boxes were stacked in a corner; all of them contained pomps that had been rolled during the first two days of float preparation.

The process referred to as “pomping” is “basically just rolling tissue paper into tiny little balls,” Hohlbein said. “[It] is kind of a fine art; it’s not very hard, but not everyone can do it.”

Hohlbein said student members will create at least 20,000 pomps if not more by the end of the week, and all of them will be attached to the float.

“Most of what’s visible is the pomps,” Nashville senior Jonny Garcia, the Sig Eps’ chapter president, said. “The structure [for the float] does not usually take very long; it’s all the other small details that takes forever to finish.”

Each fraternity and sorority member in these chapters is expected to dedicate at least 15 hours during the week to participate in creating the float.

Garcia said his favorite moments of working on the floats were the late nights spent planning and putting the float together.

“My favorite part is the late nights. The last night is usually the most fun,” Garcia said. “Even though everyone is super exhausted, it’s really great finally seeing what the float is going to look like and adding all the final touches.”

Sororities and fraternities are randomly paired to work with one another on the Homecoming floats.

“[Being randomly paired] brings us closer as a Greek community,” Hohlbein said. “We’re all one even though we have individual names.”

FarmHouse member and Auburn senior Hunter Bevil agrees that making the Homecoming float is a chance for Greek organizations to bond.

“It’s silly not to come to college and meet as many people as you can,” Bevil said. “[Being paired] allows fraternities and sororities to have a better bond.”

Pride said the camaraderie involved in the creation of the floats is a great tradition for the Greek community.

“Part of [making floats] they may not realize is becoming a team,” Pride said. “They learn by working on this task together.”

The floats will be judged before the parade begins by a panel provided by the Alumni Association.

Judges will base their scores off a 100-point system. Pride added that they will judge float creativity, how well the float fits the theme, float coloration and special effects.

The floats will be presented to the public at the Homecoming Parade on Nov. 6 at 4:30 p.m. The parade begins near Parking Structure 2 and will travel to Fountain Square Park, where the float winners will be announced at Big Red’s Roar.

Hohlbein plans to spend over 100 hours working on the float this week to ensure the completion and quality of the float.

Despite the hours and hard work it takes to put a float together, Bevil said, the outcome gives fraternities and sororities a chance to show what they can do when they work together.

“I enjoy seeing the floats,” Pride agreed. “When we line them up, you can see the excitement. They’re happy to be done and [happy for] what they have accomplished.”