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Pre-game events set the table for Homecoming

"Bulldog BBQ" was the winning float in the float competition at the Homecoming Parade.
“Bulldog BBQ” was the winning float in the float competition at the Homecoming Parade.

The University of Maine held its first annual homecoming parade and float competition on Saturday. The parade came just before the Black Bears football team took on the Yale University Bulldogs.

The parade’s theme was “University of Maine Black Bears beating the Yale Bulldogs,” and began at noon at the Collins Center for the Arts parking lot, going from the top of Long Road, and ending outside of the tailgate area in the shadow of Morse Field.

Directing the parade was MaineStream LLC with funding from University of Maine Student Government Inc.. In MaineStream’s own words, they “are becoming the video voice for the University of Maine.”

The University of Maine Police Department ushered in the participants, along with Bananas T. Bear, the dance team, cheerleaders and the marching band. In total, six floats took part.

Abbey Gutowski, co-owner of Mainestream LLC, admitted that she was overwhelmed by the event’s preparation, and hoped the event would be larger.

“Obviously, trying to advertise and communicate something new to an entire campus and community is really hard, way harder than I expected,” Gutowski said. “I’m hoping in the next years to come, this will become a much bigger event, and more of the school will get involved.”

MaineStream is a film crew and business that specializes in promotional videos and advertising. They have shot promotional videos for multiple varsity sports teams on campus. The business relies on a number of student interns.

A webpage created by MaineStream member Aysha Vear entitled “UMaine’s First Annual Homecoming Parade 2015: Beat the Bulldogs” showcases MaineStream’s production style. In one of the promotional videos, UMaine mascot Bananas T. Bear is shown walking a bulldog on a leash, and then tying it to a fence at the stadium as no dogs are allowed.

The parade culminated to the Homecoming Fair in front of the Larry K. Mahaney Baseball Clubhouse. The fair included inflatable games and bounce houses, as well as food provided by Student Entertainment. There was also live music from local band Wyld Lyfe.

Gutowski said that homecoming is usually only centered around the football game, so her group wanted to add a new facet to the homecoming experience.

“Homecoming is great, but it seems to be very revolved around just the game,” Gutowski said. “I think it should be a much bigger ordeal, that unites the entire campus and community, just for a day.”

The ever-present rain pinned back festivities around 3:00 p.m., causing crowds to seek shelter in the New Balance Field House, which was home to a craft fair. Though the rain continued, fans filled the Harold Alfond Stadium.

The winner of the competition, announced at halftime of the game, was a float entitled “Bulldog BBQ”. Participants adorned chef hats rode in a navy and sky blue float, an obvious play on cooking the Yale Bulldogs.

“They absolutely nailed it,” Gutowski said.

Yale would have the last laugh however, eventually defeating the Black Bears 21-10.

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