One of the many homecoming traditions at Texas Tech is the parade the Friday before the game. The parade is comprised of floats created by students. Students in Greek life make up a large portion of the individuals making homecoming floats, and there is a very specific way the floats are created: pomping.
“Pomping is a tradition, a lot of schools do it for their homecoming,” Lauren McKenzie, a senior human sciences major from Montgomery and the president of Delta Gamma Sorority, said.
“Basically, you take small pieces of colored tissue paper that you order from a pomping website and everyone has different techniques.”
McKenzie said she has seen it done with pencils, rolled into little tubes and rolled into balls. Depending on the texture wanted, chicken wire, glue and plywood are used and are all stuck together.
“Usually it’s drawn out ahead of time, so it eventually comes together in a beautiful image on our huge parade floats,” she said.
The sororities and fraternities partner up every year, and each pair will design their floats, Destiny Morton, a sophomore biology major from San Antonio, and the pomping chair and homecoming assistant of Tri Delta, said.
The partnerships are determined a year in advance, she said. The fraternity and sorority then design their float based on the theme. This year the homecoming theme of is Texas Tech Gets Animated, so each float was based off an animated show or movie.
The floats are a massive undertaking, requiring a lot of manpower and time, she said. The entire chapter has to do hours.
“Our seniors, which there are about 40 seniors, they do one hour. We don’t require our SoSing girls to do hours, and there are about 18 girls. So, there are about 60 people, and in that there’s only 40 hours coming out of that,” Morton said. “And then everyone else does 3 hours. So, it’s about 300 people doing three hours. So there’s about 900 hours of work going into all this, just in the sorority alone. That doesn’t count the fraternity.”
Despite the hundreds of mandatory hours both the fraternity and sorority put into the float, there may still be work left to be completed. Morton said she had spent 40 hours in the week prior to the parade pomping.
Students can have busy schedules between school, work or other extracurricular activities. Free time may come at odd hours, mainly late into the evening, but Grayson McCarley, a junior IT and marketing major from Bellaire and member of Kappa Alpha Fraternity, said working late into the night Homecoming week is part of the fun.
“Honestly for me, and for a lot of guys and girls, it’s really fun to just be up there late and just hang out and try to finish as much as possible by the deadline,” McCarley said. “And it’s not really that stressful. It’s more just fun to be able to finish it.”
Delta Gamma and Kappa Alpha are partnering this year, and staying true to the theme, they picked Dexter’s Laboratory, the popular Cartoon Network show, for inspiration, McKenzie said.
“We started putting together all the panels Wednesday night (the week prior to Homecoming week) so we are well on our way to being done,” McKenzie said. “But definitely a few more long nights ahead. But it’s really nice when we have the whole chapters support, and KA has been a wonderful partner and has really been great supporting and helping as well.”
The floats are also judged. Tri Delta took the top prize last year, Morton said, and this year it is hoping to do just as well. Since it is a competition, the floats and designs are kept secret from the other organizations in order to maintain a competitive advantage.
“With that competitive aspect, it just makes everyone go 10 times harder,” Morton said. “I’m super excited to see everyone’s float this year.”
However, the winning fraternity from two years ago was Kappa Alpha, and McCarley said this year’s float, created with Delta Gamma, is better, and feels confident it will take the cake.
“I think our float this year is better than our float my freshman year and our float my freshman year, we won it,” McCarley said. “I think our float this year in my opinion is better just because there’s a lot more design. Our float my freshman year was just massive, it was the biggest one there, but I think now there’s just a lot more detail.”
Beneath the competitive craze and desire to win, is a strong sense of community. Pomping, as well as all the homecoming events, provide an opportunity for members of Greek Life to connect and bond.
McCarley said pomping, as well as other events, are a great way to get to know the members of the other organizations and boost school spirit. The parade does not just bring students together; many locals, faculty and students attend the festivities as well.
“It is so cool, and the community is so incredible the way they come out and support,” McKenzie said. “Last year we had so much fun giving candy out to the kids and seeing everyone we knew from the community coming out and supporting too. I think that’s one of the coolest traditions by far from Homecoming.”
With athletic events being the epicenter of school spirit, McCarley said the parade creates a similar environment that makes participating in the parade particularly enjoyable, both in the atmosphere and in connecting with the community.
“It really is cool because a lot of the faculty and students come to the parade and it creates a kind of environment you don’t always see at Tech, besides football games or sporting events,” he said. “It’s like an event of its own. It’s kind of like Carol of Lights or something like that. It’s a really big event at Tech, and it’s really nice to see the community come together.”