The streets of downtown Herndon will be turned into a sea of red and black as Herndon’s community-wide Homecoming Parade makes its way through town on Saturday morning.
"It’s really a time for the entire community to come together and participate to celebrate not just the high school, but all different groups in town," said Herndon High School principal Frances Ivey. "All of the community participating and celebrating our spirit at the parade is one of those things that really makes Herndon a special place."
The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, at the corner of Elden Street and Sterling Road and continues down Elden until it reaches Lynn Street in downtown Herndon. The parade is expected to last an hour and feature more than 3,000 people in attendance.
Beside high school and middle school students, some of the more than 50 participants include the Herndon Police Department, the Herndon Town Council, the Herndon Optimist Club, several local Cub Scout Packs and the Herndon Relay for Life cancer benefit society.
The parade "is unique from a lot of other local parades because it is a true community event," said John Mosesso, a member of the Greater Herndon Community Coalition who has helped to coordinate the annual parade since 1989. "We get so many different groups from all over Herndon. It’s a good cross-section of the community and something where everyone can come out and feel like they are a part of it."
THE HOMECOMING PARADE, which is the starting event for the final day of "spirit week" at Herndon High School is the first of many high school-related activities on Saturday.
Following the parade is the Herndon High School Homecoming football game against Westfield High School at 1 p.m., followed by the Homecoming Dance, which takes place from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.
This year’s theme, "Celebrating the Cities of America" will be present at both the dance, but also in the parade, as the classes present their own student-made floats featuring a different region in the United States.
The freshman class will represent the Jersey Shore, the sophomores will exhibit Beverly Hills, the junior class will depict New York City and the seniors will be displaying a float representing Honolulu.
The floats will be judged at the parade by community representatives to reward the groups with the most attractive and creative floats.
One of the best things about the project is that this year the students have had even more control in independently putting together their floats, said Katie Lombardozzi, a senior at Herndon High School who will be appearing in the parade as part of the Herndon High School cheerleading squad. While Katie didn’t personally work on the float this year, she used her house as the headquarters for float construction last year, when the class of 2007 got first place, she said.
"I know that this year the students are getting the chance to do a lot of the work [in organizing the floats], and we’re really excited about that," Lombardozzi said. "When there are more people who are involved in working on it, more students will be more interested in how it comes out and I think there’s a lot more pride in the end result."
DESPITE THE HERNDON High School’s Homecoming Parade being built around the football game and the dance, the day is enjoyed by anyone in the town, Mosesso said.
"There’s something for everyone at the parade and there are just so many different groups that are represented," he said. "To have all of this taking place right downtown gives everyone in the town an opportunity to come out and have a great time."
While seeing the former students return and speak with their old teachers and administrators is one of her favorite parts about Homecoming day in Herndon, she still can’t get over the universal nature of the parade.
"From the pre-schoolers to the very old, we all come together for the parade and the Homecoming game," Ivey said. "The event really brings out the spirit … from both our school and the Town of Herndon."