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Troy homecoming parade canceled

Concerns over COVID-19 have led to the cancellation of the Troy University Homecoming and Appreciation Day Parade and ongoing adjustments to student and alumni activities.

Sponsored each year by the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, the parade is a cornerstone of the Homecoming activities for Troy University and typically draws thousands of participants and spectators to Downtown Troy. Homecoming is scheduled for Oct. 24, as Troy hosts Georgia State. The theme is “Home Sweet Troy.”

Dana Sanders, president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, said the group decided to cancel the parade in order to ensure the safety and well-being of citizens, students and guests.

“After discussing the parade with University and City of Troy officials, we did not see a way in which to hold the parade while complying with social distancing guidelines outlined on Governor Ivey’s Safer at Home Order,” Sanders said. “We did not make this decision lightly and we are looking forward to continuing the parade tradition next year.”

Leigh Anne Windham of the City of Troy said officials are still discussing other downtown activities for the weekend, including the Friday night concert on The Square. Plans will be updated when available.

Barbara Patterson, director of student involvement at Troy University, said Student Government Association members would be meeting Tuesday night to discuss the cancellation of the parade and other plans for homecoming week activities.

“We are going to try and continue to have the spirit of homecoming and as many homecoming traditions as possible,” Patterson said.

Activities still scheduled include banner competitions, dance night, Chalk the Quad, a kickball tournament, the annual American Red Cross blood drive and a community service project honoring first responders.

“This is just a year where we all have to be flexible and respectful of the decisions we have to make,” she said. “We’ll be doing our very best to maintain the spirit and traditions of homecoming here on campus.”

Faith Byrd, director of alumni affairs at the university, said her office is working to make sure all alumni have an opportunity to celebrate the spirit of homecoming, whether they choose to attend in person or watch from afar.

“Our theme is ‘Sweet Home Troy’ and that’s appropriate because we definitely want people to feel welcome, even with this situation, because Troy University is their home,” she said.

Byrd said safety concerns associated with COVID-19 have prompted changes in many of the association’s activities. “For alumni, participation in the alumni association also includes tailgating at home and away games,” she said. “This year, the alumni house will be closed and we will be partnering with a local restaurant to provide box meals for our members.” For example, Chick-Fil-A will provide pickup meals for members at the first home game. Pre-registration is required. “But alumni are welcome to come sit on our lawn and enjoy the meal and we will have portable restrooms available.”

The association will continue to honor the Alumni of the Year, although presentations will take place prior to the game in the mezzanine of the football complex, as will halftime activities such as crowning of the homecoming queen. “We will video those so they can be viewed in the stadium and online later,” she said.

Reunions, such as the World War II reunion, have been cancelled this year, she said.

“We’re trying to put things out there so people can watch videos or follow along on social media,” Byrd said. “If they can’t or don’t want to come, they can still participate.”