Both of Gadsden County’s public high schools celebrated homecoming this past week, complete with parades that drew proud parents, high school alums, marching bands and flocks of youngsters eager for candy.
Gadsden County Schools Superintendent Reginald James said, “I think homecoming is a wonderful time of the year. It’s an opportunity for our community to rally around our schools and show our Panther and Jaguar pride. “
“This is the best and biggest parade that I have seen in the 16 years that I have been here. It was very well coordinated and had a positive message. The kids were dressed beautifully and the turnout was good,” said Lillian Johnson, who took her grandchildren Friday to East Gadsden High School’s homecoming parade in Havana.
Asst. Police Chief Glenn Sapp, who marched in the parade with the East Gadsden High JROTC also said he felt the parade was well organized.
“It was a little different from the parade in Quincy. When you got down near the school, you looked around and there were cows in pastures on both sides of the street; it got to be a little rural,” Sapp said.
It was homecoming for the students, faculty and parents but it also gave politicians one last opportunity to shake hands with a crowd and ask for support in the general elections.
Sheriff Morris Young and his supporters walked the entire parade route and so did Millie Forehand, Reginald James, Eric Hinson and Carolyn Francis. Each distributed literature, waved, hugged and threw candy to the crowd that was estimated by Havana Police Department as between 1,500 and 2,000.
Payton Walker, Miss First Grade and Stewart Street Elementary, said she was scared.
“She has never seen a crowd this big and she got a little nervous. That’s why I’m walking beside her,” said Moneek Walker, the child’s mother.
“You couldn’t ask for a prettier day. The crowd is good, the floats are beautiful, the bands are good. Reminds me of when I was in high school,” said James Taylor of Quincy.
The picture- perfect fall day sent some people on the hunt for shade. Some of the queens were seen using their open palms to provide a little relief from the sun beating down on their faces. Near the end of the parade, which lasted about an hour, the drum major from Shanks Middle School was drenched in perspiration.
But that didn’t stop him and other members of the band from their high-stepping and drum line beats.
West Gadsden High School’s homecoming parade drew throngs to line the streets of Greensboro.
Laura Thomas, 26, said she graduated in 2004 from Greensboro high school. She still lives in Greensboro and said she likes to come to the parade.
“I see some of my classmates’ kids and stuff like that,” she said.
Among the family members watching the parade with her was her 6-year-old nephew, Ashton Lemieux, who is in first grade at Greensboro’s elementary school.
Shira Brown, 38, said she graduated from the high school at Chattahoochee in 1993. She likes to come to homecoming to see how things have changed — and she also wanted to see her cousin, Jackyla Diawara, who was Miss Third Grade at Chattahoochee’s elementary school and was in the parade.
Lataya Wooden of Quincy lined up early at the intersection of Gadsden Avenue and East 10th Street to see her daughter, 4-year-old Amya Wooden, who is a Quincy Parks and Recreation cheerleader. It was her first time coming to a West Gadsden homecoming event because she graduated in 2000 from Shanks when it was a high school.