Neighbor: George O’Neal –

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 27, 2000

46 years of appreciation for TSU


Features Editor

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Oct. 26, 2000 10 PM

Even though the Troy State University Appreciation Day Parade is now generally referred to as the TSU homecoming parade, George O’Neal, chairman of the parade committee, said those who participate still do so because they appreciate Troy State University.

"Troy State meant a lot to the Troy and Pike County communities when the first parade was organized in 1954, and it still does today," O’Neal said. "The parade began as an appreciation day parade and that hasn’t changed no matter what it’s called."

O’Neal said there are very few communities across the nation that have an appreciation day parade for their university.

"We can take pride in that," he said.

The idea of an appreciation day parade for Troy State College originated with the Troy Chamber of Commerce in 1954 as a way to show appreciation to the administration, students and employees of the college and to help recruit students to the campus.

"At that time, there were only about a thousand students on campus and the parade served a two-fold purpose," he said. "We invited high school bands from around the area to participate in the parade. While they were here, they toured the campus and hopes were that they would decided to attend Troy State when they graduated."

The Appreciation Day Parade was successful in attracting new students and in fostering good relationships between the college and the community.

"For about 10 years, we had a covered dish lunch on campus and it brought community leaders and the college administration, faculty and employees together and that made for a good relationship between the college and the town."

The covered dish lunches were first held at the stadium and later moved to Sartain Hall.

The influx of new students and the expansion of the college staff soon outgrew the boundaries of the covered dish lunches but O’Neal said those 10 years of coming together help to strengthen the town and gown relationship that is so binding today.

Over the 46 years, the TSC/TSU Appreciation Day Parade has been on the march, there have been some changes – primarily the route and the number of entries.

"We changed the route to better accommodate the parade participants and the spectators and, of course, we have more entries now than we did back in 1956. We try to hold the parade to an hour and the most entries we can move in that length of time are from 115 to 125."

O’Neal said the parade always starts on time and finishes on time and that’s they way the parade committee wants to keep it.

"We don’t try to increase the number of entries, we just try to improve the quality," he said.

O’Neal said the TSU Appreciation Day Parade usually attracts between 8,000 and 10,000 people and he expects around 10,000 on Saturday.

"Most of those who attend the parade are local but we do have a large number of alumni

who come long distances for Homecoming," O’Neal said.

Putting together a parade the size of the Appreciation Day Parade requires many hours of planning and preparation.

O’Neal said he has a hard-working committee of 60-plus who are dedicated to making the TSU Appreciation Day Parade the best it can be.

"The support we get from the Pike County Chamber of Commerce and the city of Troy, especially the street department, is outstanding," O’Neal said. "We want to invite everyone to join us for the 2000 TSU Appreciation Day Parade which will get underway at 10 a.m. Saturday."

As for any talk that this year will be O’Neal’s last as chairman of the committee, he said there’s no truth to it.

"I enjoy working with the many fine people who are involved in this event and being a part of it," he said. "I’m not ready to give it up. They’ll have to fire me."