The Montezuma-Cortez school district kicked off the 2017 homecoming celebration with a crowded parade down Main Street on Thursday.
Students, teachers and parents from schools throughout the district marched with about 25 colorful floats just after 5 p.m., while hundreds of onlookers lined the street. This year’s parade had a masquerade theme, so many of the students wore masks or costumes along with their school colors. After the parade, they gathered for a pep rally in City Park, which was festooned with pumpkins and other Halloween-themed decorations.
Assistant district superintendent Dan Porter said the parade ran into a few snags at the beginning, with one trailer getting a flat tire. But once all the floats were out on Main Street, he said he was pleased with the way the parade turned out.
“This is fantastic,” he said. “We used to do it during school, and we’d have to try to get the kids here. ... Now, we do it so they have to come on their own, and parents bring them so they can be in it, and we have a lot of good participation.”
Along with the schools, several other local organizations had floats in the parade. The Cortez Fire Protection District, Civil Air Patrol and several police cars led the procession, and members of the Montezuma County Fair, Ute Mountain and Avikan Ute royalty rode behind the Montezuma-Cortez High School’s homecoming royalty. One float was dedicated to advertising Ballot Question 3B, a mill levy override that would allow the school district to raise teachers’ salaries.
The mood at the parade was cheerful and enthusiastic. Many of the spectators joined in as cheerleaders and football players chanted their team slogans, and students with almost every float tossed candy and other trinkets to the children in the crowd. Many of the school groups got creative, like the Montezuma-Cortez Future Farmers of America chapter, which had a jungle-themed float. The Beech Street Preschool wheeled out an Old West-style float to go with the students’ cowboy and cowgirl costumes.
Pam Gaasch, a teacher at Kemper Elementary School, said all the schools try to participate in homecoming week as much as possible. About 50 Kemper students rode their bikes in the parade, along with a large contingent from Lewis-Arriola Elementary School, Children’s Kiva Montessori School and several other local grade schools.
The parade was just part of a week of school spirit events throughout the district, which will end with the high school homecoming dance on Saturday.