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West Allis - Drums rolled, youthful shouts and car horns honking rose into the air, and then they were off.

West Allis Central students staged the first homecoming parade in anyone's memory Friday evening. Behind a Marine Corps Color Guard, the enthusiastic procession fizzed like a champagne bottle shaken up and ready to pop.

The parade had floats, it had the West Allis Central Marching Band, it had sports teams and teachers, school clubs and local officials. It even had the little robot that the Central's first robot team built that actually was in the national robot competition.

It was wonderful, said Don Littleton who for 23 years has lived near Irving Elementary School where the parade started.

Crowd reaction

"It was a delight to watch," he said. "I liked everything about it. I'd like to see it next year."

"I was impressed," said his wife, Shirley. "It showed a lot of spirit."

Patrick Aukofer watched the parade with his niece, Lillia, 6, and grand-nephew, Isaiah, 5, and everybody loved the parade.

"I liked the cheerleaders," said Lillia as she and her brother gathered up the heaps of candy that a couple of float riders gave them. "I liked the Humvee," said Isaiah . "I liked the band," Aukofer said.

He also observed a little impishly, "It was fun to watch Highway 100 shut down for seven and a half minutes."

Indeed, as the parade rolled west on Lincoln Avenue, it struck up the band just before reaching Highway 100. There the cars that are the kings of the road had to bow to the youthful procession. The kids waved joyously to the waiting cars and to cars headed east on Greenfield. Westbound cars brought up the rear of the proud procession.

Floats, too

The freshman float featured a live bulldog, Central is the Bulldogs, next to a toilet. The legend read, "Flush the Falls," giving a back of the hand to Central's homecoming opponent, the Menomonee Falls Indians. The juniors' float, complete with goal posts and a Falls player suspended over a fake fire, had the legend "Roast the Indians."

"They killed it," Jess Keyes, president of the West Allis Central Boosters, said of the freshman and junior floats. "They made me giggle."

As it turned out, they also predicted the future. Central's Bulldogs beat the Indians 21 to 17.

The sophomores and seniors went for more spirit floats featuring flags, posters and banners on truck beds.

The teachers even had a couple of floats. One had a Hawaiian theme and the other featured teachers riding a truck and giving out candy.

Students' reactions

Sports teams also were part of the parade. Samuel Jorgensen, a sophomore who plays on the varsity soccer team said of the school's first homecoming parade in many years, "I didn't think there would be one, ever."

"I'm excited, this is the first time in a long time," he said.

Hailey Gorny on the pom pon squad, was excited too, "This is something new for us."

Teammates Nadia Melton said, "It's team support and school spirit," and Kassidy Pease said, "It's a coming together."

Keyes could not agree more.

School spirit

"It brought so much school spirit," she said. Last year, the bleachers were nearly empty for Homecoming, while this year they were almost full, she said. "It was amazing."

The Homecoming hoop-la peaked as the parade pulled triumphantly into the West Allis Sports Complex behind Nathan Hale High School,11601 W. Lincoln Ave., to the cheers of crowds of students and parents.

Special things were laid on for the time between the parade and the game. There was Sumo wrestling, a 40-foot obstacle course, rock climbing and a dunk tank.

Splashing regularly into the dunk tank were Central vice principal Paul Bursi, athletic director Chip MacKenzie, and head wrestling coach Jon Nelson.

Making the scene a little like a Green Bay Packers game were the 300 meals the West Allis Booster Cub gave away for tailgating.

The parade was a huge effort by students, parents, staff and  the community, Keyes said. But with help from sponsors such as the Downtown Business Improvement District, the Homecoming parade will be back next year, Keyes said.

"Oh, yeh, absolutely," she said.

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