Thousands flock to WSSU Homecoming Parade

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Fourth Street in downtown Winston-Salem, NC, was filled with wall-to-wall floats, marchers, and spectators during the annual Winston-Salem State University Homecoming parade, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013. (David Rolfe/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Erica Daniels arrived on Fourth Street 30 minutes before the start of the Winston-Salem State University Homecoming Parade so she could stand in her usual spot.

For the past several years, Daniels and her family have watched the parade in front of The Rush Fitness Complex downtown at Fourth and Marshall streets.

“ I feel this is where the bands do their little ‘break down’ or whatever they do,” Daniels said. “What I like to see are the drum majors.”

This year, the parade included about 14 floats, seven marching bands, the Wells Fargo stage coach, stilt walkers and various dancers, drumlines, cheerleaders, classic and modern cars, and motorcycle groups.

Bands included WSSU Marching Band, Carver High School band and Parkland Magnet High School band in Winston-Salem, High Point Central band in High Point, and the West Mecklenburg Marching Hawks in Charlotte.

Sgt. Katie Paterson of the Winston-Salem Police Department was excited to lead the parade in her police car for the first time after more than five years of helping to block off intersections for the event.

“ It’s exciting with a lot of people downtown,” Paterson said. “It’s always a really entertaining parade. The bands are great and I think a lot of the public comes out to watch it. It’s a big event for the city.”

Thousands of people lined up along Fourth Street for the parade, which started at 10 a.m. at Fourth and Marshall streets and ended more than 1 ½ hours later at WSSU.

“ It’s something that I think we should always continue to do,” Daniels said of the parade’s existence.

Daniels was at the parade with her children, Tre, 4, and Erin, 7. Her friend, Erica Gaines of Winston-Salem also brought along her children, Ziah, 4, Ziri, 7, and Zion, 9.

Gaines said that the parade is a great way to give her children something to do on the weekend.

“ I like the little girl and boy dancers’ performances,” Gaines said.

The WSSU Homecoming Parade dates back to the early 1940s and has become a tradition for many WSSU students, alumni, faculty and staff, and other folks and groups in the community.

“ This is a significant and annual celebration of the university and its connection in the city of Winston-Salem,” said Aaron Singleton, a WSSU spokesman.

He said that groups from throughout the community participate in the parade.

Wayman Saunders, a sergeant for the Forsyth County Detention Center, has attended the parade every year since he moved to Winston-Salem in 1994. This time was extra special because he got to bring his four-month-old grandson, Christian.

“He saw the first 15 to 20 minutes then he fell asleep,” said Saunders, who was also at the parade with his wife, Missy, and daughter, Sherry. “Then I had to keep on watching it for him.”

Saunders said that the parade gets bigger each year in terms of floats and bands.

Daniels said the parade was really good this year, and she plans to return for the 2014 parade.

“Same bat time. Same bat place,” she said.

By Fran Daniel/Winston-Salem Journal