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The Reflection

An art kid’s review of the 2017 Homecoming floats

4 votes

September 29 saw the homecoming parade once again overwhelm the streets of Richland, and with the festivities came an array of, you guessed it, homecoming floats–Disney themed homecoming floats, to be exact. Traditionally planned and made by the student senate members of each grade, the floats rolled out at approximately 5:30 p.m. for the sole purpose of me judging their artistic merit. What follows is a breakdown of each high school class’s float, ‘cause let’s be honest, high school’s where it’s at. High school’s also where the official vote’s at, in which seniors took first, sophomores second, freshmen third, and juniors came in as the caboose. Since the student body doesn’t seem to know who determines the results or what criteria is considered, let’s delve into a full-on artistic analysis, because this is totally something you asked for.


Juniors (The Little Mermaid): One might expect the Juniors to have come home with 2nd place, as seems a given

The Junior float featured Abby Stark as Flounder, Haley Bo as Sebastian, and Athena Osburn as Ariel. Photo by Parker Feraco.

in past years of voting. Usually the announcement goes: “Seniors, Juniors, Sophomores, Freshmen,” and I’ve even heard gossip about the system being rigged, but I suppose this year proves that theory wrong. Assigned Disney’s The Little Mermaid as a theme, one might say the Junior float belongs under the sea.

Nah, I’m just exaggerating for the sake of a mediocre pun. There were definitely effective elements to the Junior float; it just read a little sparse as a whole. Let’s get the shortcomings over with first, so I can keep the compliments for the end and the Juniors don’t get too mad at me.

“I loved being Ariel,” Osburn said. “Once the parade was done, a little girl who was about five years old came up and was like ‘Hi, Ariel!’ and she genuinely thought I was her and it warmed my heart.” Photo by Parker Feraco

The thing that most jolts me out of the magical Disney trance is the fact that this very much looks like a float–which is fine, it’s a float, but it just lacks the transformative properties I want. The float is essentially a dully painted box with some pieces cut out of it, so the eye doesn’t really move anywhere besides the next float. The class year itself looks like it was painted by an angsty teen who tried to be a graffiti artist but was afraid of being caught by his dad, the local police officer who he’s rebelling against but secretly wants to please.

Nevertheless, said angsty teen (the hypothetical one from the previous paragraph) seems to have found his calling in tissue paper art. The startlingly-detailed-for-tufted-tissue-paper aquatic life gave me the whimsy I was otherwise lacking, as did Sebastian, Flounder, and Ariel up front. While the characters were certainly cute as a package deal, Ariel was the float’s crowning glory. Fitting, ‘cause she is a princess, you know?  The Juniors utilized what’s easily the most iconic scene in the movie, placing Ariel on her infamous rock (and in a pretty darn accurate costume, I see you Athena Osburn). This was more representative of the theme that anything else, and for that I respect this design choice.


Freshmen (Peter Pan): You know the drill–Freshmen, Fresh Meat, but this year’s bottom of the food chain put in a valiant effort. This effort landed them one space above the bottom of the food chain, where the Juniors’ Flounder and Sebastian now reside.

Given the time frame and their lack of high school experience, the Freshies tackled a fairly ambitious ship design, drawing inspiration from, presumably, Captain Hook’s pirate ship.

The Junior float cruises through Richland with students dressed as pirates, Peter Pan, and Wendy aboard. Photo by Parker Feraco.

I’d say they win the who-considered-their-base-most award, as they transformed their float into a structure relevant to their inspiration. Past that, however, the finished product left me yearning for something in the ship, whether that be mermaids or fairies or any of the countless whimsies of the actual story. Though the float-riders may have attempted to emulate Peter Pan and Wendy upon further inspection, not enough emphasis was placed on them for me to notice in the midst of all the parade hullabaloo, and an artist needs to consider their audience.

The flag sprouting from the center of the ship breaks a higher plane and draws the eye upwards, which I appreciate, but whether due to a lack of design or simply a lack of wind, it doesn’t have enough visual interest to hold the eye.

Back to positives, because I feel like I’m being mean (but I’m a senior, cut me some slack!) The wave motif bordering the bottom of the float is top-notch, and I enjoy the concept behind placing the class year and theme as one would the name of a boat. The red, blue, and black color scheme really utilizes contrast, and the rope strung around the perimeter further defined the design as, indeed, a ship.

Overall, props for a creative concept. We are talking about high school floats here, albeit very dramatically on my part, and execution isn’t going to be perfect–except for the Seniors, of course.

Nicolas Geoffroy chants spiritedly from the Sophomore float. The back is decorated with colorful tissue paper tufts and a well-known quote from the Lilo and Stitch film: “Ohana means family.” Photo by Parker Feraco.


Sophomores (Lilo and Stitch): Speaking of tissue paper art…the Sophomores went crazy with the stuff. The repeated medium and its characteristic texture lent a certain continuity to the float, and drew attention to various areas. The confetti-like colors evoke the island vibes of Lilo and Stitch as well.

Their theme was easily recognizable due to the presence of many a cardboard character cut out, which is a good thing besides the fact that the method seems a bit like a cop-out to me. After all, plopping a card

Sophomores Madi Murphy and Nicolas Geoffroy throw candy to their audience from behind an ambitiously designed tissue paper wall. Photo by Parker Feraco.

board print on a float doesn’t take the time hand painting or constructing would. Efficient, yes, but also not quite as impressive.

Everyone on the float seemed very festive in leis and smiles, which goes a long way– evident in their 2nd place victory. However, I’d say that victory was narrowly won. When it comes to Freshmen vs Sophomores vs Juniors, my vote would have been very close. The only thing I’m completely certain of is that Seniors took the cake. 



Seniors (Beauty and the Beast): WOOOO GO SENIORS! What? What do you mean I’m biased? I assure you, my journalist/art student face is on now. Let’s proceed in our analysis of how the Senior float was totally the Belle of the Ball.

Atop the Senior float are Sarah Pelyhes as Chip, Luke Edgery as the “Beast,” and Gracie DeVore as Belle. Lumiere and Cogsworth are inanimate objects. Photo by Parker Feraco.

There are so many things working on this float that we’re just going to move from front to back. First of all, if anyone knows how to utilize a forgotten PAC prop, it’s the seniors. The columns shout “Hey! We’re in a castle,” which is driven home by the actual princess chilling out within it. The open floor plan of the float, if you will, also resembles a spacious garden/castle, allowing for a blur between the two. A distinction is made, however, with an astoundingly stable archway that I quite frankly would happily use for my grad party and/or wedding. After realizing the whole ‘castle’ setting, the viewer is immediately able to identify it as ‘the Beast’s castle,’ aided  by repetition of the rose motif, the intricately built bookshelf, painted stained glass window, and presence of five major characters (3 of which were played by sentient students) : Chip, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Belle, and the Beast himself.

But wait, is that the Beast? No, it’s our very own Gull Lake Blue Devil! The incorporation of Gull Lake’s mascot is the perfect bridge between the Disney theme and Homecoming as a community-wide event.

If I have to fault the Seniors with anything it would be too much perfection. That, and the failure to completely disguise the frame of their float, but now I’m just nitpicking. Not that this entire review has been nitpick city, but hey, with the amount of work that goes into these floats, they deserve some recognition as true, analyzable art forms.


I'm a senior and an OG student journalist (meaning I did it last year), but seeing as I love all things writing and current events, I figured I ought to combine the two and earn my journalism-legs. I tend to write what I'm passionate about (don't we all), whcih includes art, social issues, politics, entertainment, etc. My articles are primarily features and opinions. (Update: They're still features and opinions. Everything I write turns feature-y. Help.)

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