Y2K. Does anybody even remember all the hubbub?
The clock was ticking down on 1999 as Tallassee went deep into the playoffs. The end of not only the decade, but the century -- and the millennium – was nigh.
As 1999 ended, one could not escape the news coverage of end-of-the-world declarations and doomsday preparations. Canned goods, bottled water, and storm shelters were probably the top selling items that Christmas!
And so, this week, here they come: the Class of 2000. Yes, twenty years have passed since Y2K. Feel old yet?
In small-town America, Homecoming is huge. It is often said that nobody does it like Tallassee, and that is the absolute truth.
Thursday evening, the current senior class will be honored alongside the class from 20 years ago. There is a candelight ceremony on the front steps of the school building – with construction coming soon, this could be the last one in that location for a while, so enjoy it. The townsfolk gather to hear both classes sing the school Alma Mater a capella. It’s the most beautiful singing you’ll ever hear, presented with a level of devotion that seems to exist only in our imaginations, a blissful memory of someone else’s lifetime ago.
Following the candlelight ceremony is a giant bonfire on the band practice field behind the school. The cheerleaders, majorettes, and color guard of today work hard with the returning ones from 20 years ago to put on the best pep rally of the year.
Friday morning is another great tradition, the pep rally that honors the returning class. The current students get to hear stories about the previous generation and participate in skits and routines with the older folks.
Each class at the high school is responsible for a parade float. This isn’t just a convertible belonging to someone’s dad; this is the real deal. Tissue paper, colors, imaginative designs, lots of hard work over many hours.
Somehow, the junior and senior classes always seem to win or tie.
The parade is a citywide event on Friday afternoon. Schools and businesses close at lunchtime to allow everyone to crowd the streets of Tallassee, rubbernecking to see batons being twirled and fire trucks displaying their lights and sirens. Children sit on the shoulders of their moms and dads, gleefully catching candy thrown from parade floats passing by.
The Homecoming Court, complete with a Queen and attendants, are voted on by the student body, presented at the pep rally, and recognized with a crowning ceremony at the football game.
In Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average. This is also true of Tallassee. Our jaded world desperately needs other towns with more days like these.
May we hang on to Homecoming as long as we can.