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Prepping for Oak Harbor homecoming parade

Oak Harbor High School students prepare to paint one of six school floats that will be part of the homecoming parade through downtown Oak Harbor at 5:30 p.m.Wednesday, Oct. 16.  - Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor High School students prepare to paint one of six school floats that will be part of the homecoming parade through downtown Oak Harbor at 5:30 p.m.Wednesday, Oct. 16.
— image credit: Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

Patrick Punch knew he could’ve been somewhere else.

With no classes at Oak Harbor High School Thursday because of parent-teacher conferences, Punch could have been at home watching the latest episodes of reality television.

He chose instead to join dozens of other students who were at school by 9 a.m., decorating floats for next week’s Homecoming parade.

Punch, a junior, helped decorate the choir float.

“I love to help and be involved in the program,” Punch said. “It really sort of changed my life. I want to teach music. The teacher really inspired me.”

The finished floats will be on display for public view Wednesday, Oct. 16, as part of Oak Harbor’s Homecoming parade. About 30 group entrants will take part in the parade that will travel down Pioneer Way from Southeast City Beach Street to Midway Boulevard. The parade starts at 5:30 p.m.

It’s the third consecutive year the parade has gone through downtown.

“The whole reason we are doing it down there is because of the downtown merchants,” said Sandee Oehring, the high school’s career-tech education director. “They do so many things for us.”

Next week will be a busy one at the high school centered around homecoming with “Spirit Week” events scheduled each day, such as a parade Wednesday, school assembly and football game Friday and dance Saturday.

The parade will have more participants this year because only one of the high school’s fall sports teams is scheduled to be away from home.

There will be floats for all four classes and the choir and robotics programs. Other than the Whidbey Cruzers and a van from Wildcat TV, the parade will consist of marchers representing clubs, classes, teams and programs from the high schools, middle schools and elementary schools.

Marti Malloy, Oak Harbor alum and bronze medalist in judo at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, will be riding near the front of the parade.

“It gets your face out there,” said Anthony Alexander, Oak Harbor’s senior class president who will march with the football team during the parade. “It makes you feel famous.”

Alexander also was at school Thursday, listening to music and brushing purple paint on to the senior class float.

“I’m leading by example,” he said. “I don’t expect anyone to show up to an event that I don’t show up to.”

The floats were built a little sturdier this year with wood stands designed to be painted over each year. In past years, students were only given a float base and had to build the rest out of paper and other flimsy material that held up poorly in bad weather.

Oak Harbor High School principal Dwight Lundstrom made it part of a summer project to build floats that could be re-used and stand the test of time.

“It’s nice to have a principal who would take on something like that and do it,” said Erica Riley, high school Spanish and leadership teacher and ASB advisor.

With the hardware in place, students could focus on decorating and painting.

Even a few raindrops didn’t seem to stifle progress much or dampen spirits.

Most seemed genuinely happy to be there.

“I’m not a person who can sit at home and do nothing,” sophomore Katie Lof said.

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