UTPA celebrates in a new way
UTPA’s first homecoming parade did not feature the usual trailers and pickup trucks. Instead, decorated golf carts, bicycles, wagons and other creative ways to get around made their way through campus Tuesday.
Students, faculty and staff put their Bronc spirit on display on Fat Tuesday by decorating modes of transportation with colorful Mardis Gras and UTPA-themed decorations.
Starting at the sundial near the Field House, all participants made their way through the campus on their entries or on foot. Once they reached the Quad in front of the Student Union, a Mardis Gras celebration was held where the cheerleaders and the Blazer dance team performed.
Some of the organizations and facilities that came together for the parade included the Student Government Association, the Office of the Dean of Students and the Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex.
Janet Peña and Andrew Diaz, both staff of the University’s Recreational Complex, participated in the parade, entering a festive golf cart wrapped in Mardis Gras-colored tissue paper and balloons while wearing rhinestone-dotted masks.
Peña said that decorating their entry took two hours and they used materials they already had like masquerade masks or borrowed things such as the streamers and bead necklaces from friends and other members of their organization.
“It was a team effort. There were five other people that helped us out,” Peña said. “While we were decorating the cart, (Diaz) was getting decorated, too.”
Diaz, a San Antonio native, was dressed as a bright Mardis Gras clown and his face was completely painted in an array of white, green, purple and orange with a set of oversized lips smiling from cheek to cheek.
“For its first year, it was a great experience. Lots of people came together and (the school) went all out,” Diaz said.
Junior Billy Ray Flores watched the parade with his friend, senior Jolet Rivera and had positive things to say.
“It was awesome. It shows that the school has a lot of spirit and it was very colorful,” Flores said.
Rivera, a business management major, said she and Flores were walking around the Student Union when the distant beats of the drumline caught their attention.
“When we heard the drums, we wondered what it was so we ran over to see what was going on,” explained Rivera. “Then we saw the parade coming and we stayed to watch.”
After watching the parade, they stayed at the Quad to join in on the celebration hosted by the Student Union.
Left and right, people wore bead necklaces and masquerade masks that glimmered in the afternoon sun. Purple, gold and green colored banners and decorations dotted the quad.
Student Union Program Coordinator Mabel Cortina helped confirm things at the events like the drumline and the pep band.
Cortina felt the parade was a great way for student organizations as well as departments to come together and show their UTPA pride and build a sense of community.
“It’s a dynamic way of celebration. Everyone can do their own thing and interpret school spirit in their own way,” she said.
Behind the scenes, Delma Olivarez from the Office of the Dean of Students, coordinated several aspects of the parade like making sure everything was safe.
“Coordinating the safety guidelines was probably the most complicated part of everything because we wanted to make sure we had a good time but in a safe way,” Olivarez said.
She also said that many universities have golf cart parades, like the ones held when she attended the University of Texas at San Antonio. She said because not many people at UTPA own golf carts, it was opened to any other creative form of getting around.
“It’s a new tradition. Something to promote school spirit and get organizations and departments involved in something fun,” Olivarez said.