Palo Alto students show spirit during homecoming week

Parade floats, rallies, dances -- a look at the longstanding traditions of homecoming

Five minutes before the day let out at Gunn High School on Oct. 20, there was no sign of life outside on Titan Field, just the sun beating down onto the football field and half-finished parade floats perched next to the stands. Then the bell rang, and suddenly the athletic field came to life as students poured onto the field with chicken wire, yellow tissue paper, large pieces of cardboard and other float-building materials in hand.

This wasn't just any Thursday afternoon. This was homecoming week and the day before the big football game during which the parade floats are revealed -- a longstanding tradition that showcases school spirit, creativity and fun.

The race was on for each class to put the finishing touches on its "universe"-themed floats, which even managed to incorporate Pokemon onto one of the displays.

"I heard they approved cardboard," said one student, while another asked, "Are those supposed to be plants?" At one point, a group of students broke into a limbo dance, proving this wasn't all work and no play.

Assistant Vice Principal Heather Wheeler said, "They get full on into it ... (They) construct it all themselves, with little outside help."

Across town at Palo Alto High School the next day, the level of excitement was similar as students prepared for a final rally and float competition before their homecoming game that night. Thunderous cheers and laughter from the crowd echoed well beyond Viking Stadium as the freshman float made its way in front of the stands while the PA system erupted into a flurry of pop and hip hop songs. Next, the sophomores' firefighter float made its way onto the field, followed by the junior class' Muhammad Ali-themed float that featured a full boxing ring. The seniors' float, which appeared last, used the old Mario Bros. video games as inspiration.

Back at Gunn High School, the homecoming game was beginning to turn into a blowout. Gunn's opponent, Homestead High School, was winning by four touchdowns at halftime, but even that couldn't stifle the excitement as those in the stands eagerly awaited the arrival of the floats and the homecoming court and the culmination of a week filled with camaraderie and school spirit.


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


6 people like this
Posted by Fun!
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 28, 2016 at 10:21 am

Fun! is a registered user.

Refreshing to see these kids who work so hard, actually having some fun. We could hear all the school spirit from where we live. It was fantastic!

8 people like this
Posted by dtn
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 28, 2016 at 10:49 am

Great idea to have the homecoming dances together, brings the 2 schools together. Back in the day we would have tri-schools and it would be at the cabana. I think they should to do this more often. Next year at the new Paly gym

7 people like this
Posted by Good, clean FUN!
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 28, 2016 at 12:10 pm

I enjoy volunteering at Gunn regularly. These kids are wonderful--bright, energetic, kind to each other, creative. There are SO many good things happening at Gunn (and, I imagine, at Paly as well-though I don't have kids there).

Thank you, Weekly, for focusing today on a part of the PAUSD high school experience that is just good, clean FUN. Spirit Week was a great fun for the kids this year. You have captured it nicely.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Rose International Market reopening soon in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 11 comments | 5,301 views

Eyes and the End of Life: Why Spend Time With the Dying?
By Aldis Petriceks | 2 comments | 1,860 views

The HSR Decision
By Steve Levy | 8 comments | 1,163 views

We need a new garage downtown Palo Alto -- forget about being politically correct
By Diana Diamond | 6 comments | 1,033 views

Know Before You Buy: Understanding Senior Living Facility Agreements
By Max Greenberg | 0 comments | 474 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details