Watsonville High mascot Willy the Wildcat helps these seniors drum up the spirit Friday in their homecoming parade in downtown Watsonville. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)
WATSONVILLE — The roar of engines, honking of horns and the enthusiastic cheers of hundreds of young people dominated downtown Watsonville Friday afternoon, as the school’s annual homecoming parade made its way through the city streets.
Made up of cheerleaders, football players, representatives from small learning communities and scores of others, the parade was watched by many bystanders along the route, which began in the parking lot of Fire Station 1 on Second Street and ended at the high school.
A tradition of many years, homecoming parades are intended to boost morale and enthusiasm for schools’ homecoming games, in this case against North Monterey County High School.
More than that, however, this parade was a resounding statement to the community that the youthful enthusiasm that has flowed from Watsonville High School in the 12 decades of its existence is as strong as it ever has been.
It was a reaffirmation to the community that the students care about their school, their education and their community, and that society will no doubt benefit once they graduate and set off into the world.
“This is exciting,” said junior Leah Ancira. “This is a good way for our classes to be together.”
Alondra Iniguez, 16, agreed.
“Everyone is happy and positive and excited for the game tonight.”
Themed this year after Walt Disney movies, the parade was punctuated by technicolor costumes and castles, princesses and other characters from iconic movies such as “Up,” “The Incredibles,” “Alice in Wonderland” and the television show “Phineas and Ferb.”
“This is great,” said Adrian Rivera, 17. “The homecoming game, the parade, it’s a good day.”
Senior Denise Gomez, 17, said she’s participated in the event for the past two years.
“This is the last time we’ll be in the parade, but this year is better because we’re seniors,” she said.
Francisco Herrera, 17, was in the parade to represent the Watsonville High Business and Technology Academy.
“I feel excited,” he said. “I’m on the float and it’s my senior year.”
Ashley Valdivia, 18, who was in the parade as part of the Environmental Sciences and Natural Resources Academy, was dressed as Ariel the mermaid from the movie “The Little Mermaid.”
“I’m so excited, actually,” she said.
Valdivia explained that she had never given much thought to participating in school spirit events. When she saw how enthusiastic her friends were about it, however, she changed her mind.
“I realized it was fun to see all the color,” she said.
Football player Joseph Rubio, 16, said he enjoyed the spirit week that preceded the parade, which included pajama day, sports day and opposite sex day.
“It’s homecoming, and all the excitement comes out, and people are happy,” he said. “It’s the school’s week.”
The parade has been a tradition since students rekindled it in 2007 after a 23-year dry spell. It was cancelled due to a lack of interest and waning financial support.
But student organizers brought it back and it has been growing in popularity since then.
“This is the biggest one yet,” said student activities director Bunny Tessier.
Tessier was quick to point out that this year’s event was entirely run and organized by students.
“We’re showing off the small learning communities, our sports and clubs,” said Esther Gallegos, 17. “We’re showing we have a lot of spirit.”
Gallegos is one of three students who were in charge of logistics on Friday.
Matthew Jimenez, 16, and Vanessa Gonzalez, 17, were her cohorts.
“I’m very motivated and inspired by how much school spirit people have,” Gonzalez said.
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