COLUMN: CMU Homecoming Parade from the perspective of a new CM Lifer
Waking up early on the weekends isn't everyone's cup of tea. On most weekends it certainly isn't mine.
So why did I find myself awake at 9 a.m. this Saturday, pulling on layers of clothes for the first time this semester, and trekking it to Moore Hall by 10 a.m.?
It was because I was a part of the Central Michigan University Homecoming Parade this year, walking with other staff members of Central Michigan Life. We haven't been active participants in the parade in a long while, and this year we wanted to make an entrance.
So, while the first half of the group met at CM Life's main office to grab the 10-foot banner we'd be walking with and some additional props, the other half waited on foot in Lot 22 for our arrival.
This was my first time being in the CMU Homecoming Parade, let alone seeing it. I am an out-of-state student from the South, and while I've been in school parades and Christmas parades back at home, they were never this large or in this cold weather.
I couldn't help but feel slightly out of place in the crowd, looking around at some staff members I had never met and floats for clubs I hadn't heard of. Everything felt so new to me, and I wasn't sure if that was a good feeling or a bad one yet.
The wind bit at us and the puddles attempted to swallow us as we struggled to keep up with the Lego themed float in front of us. As we walked down Main Street and up Broadway, it was almost impossible to feel the chill with the fire that was burning through the crowd.
You could feel the warmth in their cheers, in the "Fire Up Chips!" and the occasional "CM Life for Life!" While I was up front fighting with Mother Nature to keep the banner from flying away, you could still hear the hum and buzz in CM Life staff members walking behind us, especially when the chants started.
"When I say CM, you say Life! CM!"
It was here I felt the feelings of unfamiliarity and newness wash away. As I held the banner taut for the crowd to read and watched their faces light up when they recognized us, I couldn't help but feel a sense of belonging instead.
There's this sense of community and belonging here that I had heard about before applying. It's a concept that keeps coming up the more I talk to students and faculty that have been at Central for a while, or even alumni I have interviewed in the past. Being a student from out-of-state, coming from a small, rural town, I had always feared I wouldn't be met with that same welcoming atmosphere I had heard so much about.
But in my two months of attendance here, joining CM Life, attending events, and speaking with people that have actually lived through what I'm living through now... I couldn't be more wrong. Seeing the crowds of people in CMU merch and cheering not just for us, but the other floats as well, have shown me that even further.
No matter who you are or where you come from, you belong here.