It was a calm, quiet Saturday afternoon on Shepherd Street. Then it wasn’t.
A police car turned onto the road, with other vehicles behind it, as South Side High School’s Homecoming parade reached its homestretch. A fire truck carried Cyclones football players who were primed for their game later that day, as cheerleaders chanted, “Let’s get a little bit rowdy!”
A pickup truck hauled a Hawaiian-themed float — complete with a smoky volcano and a speaker blaring “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” — made by members of South Side’s class of 2019. The back of the float read, “Aloha Seniors.”
“It’s kind of perfect,” said Lauren Thomas, president of the senior class. “Aloha means hello and goodbye.”
This year’s theme for the floats was postcard destinations. “We just worked together and made it happen,” said Jake LaRocco, president of the freshman class, who chose to depict Alaska instead of other travel spots such as Egypt or Niagara Falls.
Lio Grillo, co-president of the sophomores, said he and his classmates worked on their Rome float over the past three or four weeks, but they were up late the night before “in crunch time” to add the finishing touches, which he said came out great.
“It’s kind of tough [competition] though,” Grillo added, “because the seniors have been doing this for so long and we’re kind of new at this.”
The juniors chose a Paris-themed float. “There’s so many beautiful aspects that come along with Paris in itself,” said Savanna May, president of the junior class, noting the Eiffel Tower. “We’re really happy with how it turned out.”
Homecoming culminated South Side’s Spirit Week, which featured competitions among the four classes, including a pie-eating contest, the Mind Olympics, a lip-sync battle and a tug of war.
Thomas noted before the float results were an-nounced that aside from the lip-sync battle, in which the seniors placed third, her class won every event. The class of 2019 shared first place with the juniors in the mural contest.
“There’s something novel about being a senior,” Thomas said. “You’re kind of setting an example for everybody younger than you, so I feel like it’s almost my responsibility to not just win, but show people how it’s done.”
Later that day, the results were announced, with the junior class winning the float competition and the seniors taking second place. The sophomores and freshmen followed, in that order. Overall, the seniors won Spirit Week by one point.
Despite a rainy morning, the sun broke through the clouds as students marched to the high school and then the football field, where players warmed up for their game against Glen Cove. The Cyclones won, 21-0, earning their fifth win of the season.
South Side High School Principal John Murphy said he considered the weather a good omen. “There’s a lot of hard work that goes into it,” Murphy said of Spirit Week. “I’m always proud of the kids, especially on days like today. It’s a lot of school spirit.”