The 2021 Tahlequah Homecoming Parade moved through downtown Friday, as participants from all of Tahlequah Public Schools' sites represented their various organizations.

This year’s parade took on new meaning after the 2020 homecoming was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With lifted spirits, students were supported by parents, family, neighbors, and classmates in an event that left smiles on the faces of those who participated and attended.

“Kids have been excited all week because we didn’t get to have it last year. And so, everyone is super excited. We have about 77 entries, so it's a pretty big parade. There’s a lot of excitement. It’s just fun to have some school spirit in person,” said Tahlequah High School Principal Lacie Wilson.

The organizations represented included Homecoming Royalty; the Orange Express; Tahlequah Football Team; THS Pom Squad; THS Cheerleading Team; THS Art Club; Special Olympics Sweet Heart; THS Science Club; JROTC; THS S-Club; THS Prism; First-Grade Cheer and Football; Second-Grade Cheer and Football; fast-pitch softball; slow-pitch softball; Tahlequah Middle School Choir; and THS Family, Career, Community Leaders of America.

“This is my first time being at something big,” said FCCLA Vice President Yarsley Eligo. “It feels great to be in the parade.”

Thomas Taylor is a Tahlequah High School student who plays left field for the baseball team, and he accompanied Lexi Hannah, who plays slow-pitch softball. He, like many of the participants, had to arrive early to be in the parade.

“I got ready and got here at 12:30. We’ve been here trying to find out what line there was to be in,” said Taylor.

Students have worked hard all week to decorate cars, blow up balloons, buy and hem clothing, and organize themselves to participate in the parade. For them, it was worth it.

Homecoming Parade was a part of a week of homecoming festivities which led to the Homecoming Game on Friday night.

This year’s theme was “Lights, Camera, Homecoming!” and over the week, students watched movies that highlight high school culture. On Monday, they celebrated “The Breakfast Club” by wearing pajamas to school. On Tuesday, they played “Dodgeball.” On Wednesday, they wore pink to represent “Mean Girls.” On Thursday, they celebrated Spirit Day and watched “Remember the Titans.”

On Friday, all students took off school for parent-teacher conferences and to prepare for Homecoming events.

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