Sky View homecoming parade — candy, cameras and books

Image: Smithfield Royalty

Smithfield Royalty (Arianna Rees)

The creak of plastic chairs on the asphalt, the rustle of plastic bags, and the giggles of neighborhood children were pleasantly interrupted Wednesday night as the loud peal of police sirens marked the start of Sky View High School’s 2011 Homecoming Parade.

Spectators and families from across the valley gathered to support their favorite teams, clubs, and organizations in the parade, which wound its way from the center of town to Sky View’s parking lot. With cars, boats, skateboards, and unicycles full of student leaders, athletes, academics, artists, and musicians, there were many groups for the community to celebrate.

Kandi Pitcher, a Sky View alumnus who lives right on the parade route, said, “I am partial to the swimmers, but I also like girls’ lacrosse. I like seeing the different sports and who’s in them.”

Pitcher said that she enjoys the parade, and she loves that it passes by her home every year.

Other parade-goers came for the candy, but along with Laffy Taffy pieces, Tootsie Rolls, or other goodies, some spectators walked away with a handout that was highly unusual for a parade: books.

Members of Reeder’s Readers, a club started by English teacher Martin Reeder to get high school students more into books, handed out seven boxes filled with old classroom book sets and books that Sky View’s library was taking out of circulation. Reeder said that though the students were a little reluctant to hand out books at first, the reaction of the crowd made handing them out infectious.

“The reaction to the books was awesome. We would have parents looking at us strangely, trying to figure out what we were doing, and then when they realized that we were handing out books, they got some big grins on their faces. The kids were especially funny,” he said. “They would be begging for us to give them a book, so we’d toss them something like Lord Byron’s Prose and Verse, Volume 1, and they would fight each other for it like it was a King Sized Snickers Bar.”

Reeder said that the interest in the books was high from the beginning of the parade, and the group ran out of books after only a few blocks. He credits that to the power of a book versus a piece of candy.

“With books, it is like you are passing out potential life opportunities, potential personal experiences of truth, because who knows when someone will pick up a book, even if casually, flip through some pages, and strike upon something that hits them and can affect them for years. Candy, as much as I’m a fan, doesn’t quite tap into that,” Reeder said.

For many clubs like Reeder’s Readers, this was one of the first years to get recognition within the parade and to share that with friends and neighbors.

Books, candy, and cameras in hand, parade spectators left the streets to return to their homes after another successful parade. Many will again return for next year’s parade.

“It’s a tradition,” Pitcher said, “and Homecoming wouldn’t be the same without it for the high school students.”

“Parents, neighbors, and even complete strangers, got a small slice of what is going on in the big school that happens to be located in their community, and I think it’s good for them to see that there are amazing things happening so close,” Reeder said, “great clubs, like, dare I say, Reeder’s Readers, a wide array of sports with talented students, skilled musicians, and just an outstanding student body. The world as a whole may have a growing pessimism in regards to today’s youth, and maybe rightfully so, but I think that the Homecoming Parade shows this local community that Sky View High School is an exception to that rule.”