It happened. This year, the greatest thing that could have happened during our annual homecoming festivities did happen. What started out as a slobbery dream became a barking reality at Illinois State’s homecoming parade when all floats and participants were replaced by the one thing everyone on earth loves: puppies.
The idea of uprooting tradition and implementing a puppy takeover was initiated by sophomore Shayna Sanders only weeks before homecoming festivities began. “I was sitting in my room, totally sober, not doing anything illegal at all, and I was like, ‘parades are the literal worst, what if we replaced all the boring floaty bullshit with cute lil’ puppies instead?!’ My boyfriend thought it was a brilliant idea, so I e-mailed Alumni Relations about it. I figured they would just delete it.”
Two days later, Shayna received a response. The Alumni Association was interested and wanted to know more. “I met with them, but the meeting lasted about ten minutes. I was just like, ‘take out the people, put in puppies. It’s that simple.’ So they did.” Initially, the administration put up a fight, just as “The Man” typically does. Even some students aligned with higher ups, claiming, “puppies aren’t even our mascot! I made a freaking float for this dumb parade and there’s gonna be Instagram pictures of it, dammit!”
This last-minute switch was ultimately decided upon by President Larry Dietz. This year, being his first homecoming as president of the university, he wanted to bring “sweet, fluffy joy to the students of ISU.” Oh Larry, you know us so well. The official switch was made three days before the parade, and students and community members were quickly informed. Since there was little time to plan, dog owners wishing to walk in the parade were simply asked to show up with their pups.
The president and other faculty members rallied to tell people about the change. Facebook groups were created, annoying mass texts were sent out. It was all hands on deck in hopes that enough puppies would be in attendance to make the event noteworthy. “I literally cannot wait. The puppies… the puppies are coming! Think of all the puppies!” pug enthusiast and ISU student Jane Wilson commented.
Saturday morning finally came. Students, alumni, families, and Bloomington-Normal residents lined the streets of campus and awaited the parade. There for the next hour, Redbird supporters watched, cheered, and aww-ed at the adorable canines as they walked proudly through town adorned in their best red and white attire. German shepherds sported ISU hats. Tiny shih tzu’s adorned stuffed animal Reggies on their backs. Students burst into tears from the cuteness overload. The parade was a success.
When asked about the events of the day black lab, Purdie, had this to say, “woof, woof! Bark bark, woof, ruff!” Pomeranian Chihuahua mix, Princess, said, “bark, bark, woof!” and then tried to bite the hand of the reporter interviewing him.
President Dietz, and even most of the opposed administration and students, have no plans to change our new, and already beloved, tradition back to its stale former self. “The parade had about a thousand more attendants than the parade last year. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure most students even knew about the parade before, but now they sure as hell do! Uh oh, sure as heck do. Can you take out the part where I said hell? Thank you.”