Kyle Raffel (third from left) hanging out with his fellow SMO members
Photo courtesy of: Kyle Raffel
SMO doing O-H-I-O chant during parade
Photo courtesy of: Kyle Raffel
Oct 24, 2010
You often hear alumni talk about what special places Athens and Ohio University are. My mother is an Ohio alumna, and hearing her speak about this place as I was growing up never really resonated with me until I was smack in the middle of it.
Last Saturday, the Singing Men of Ohio participated in the annual Ohio University Homecoming Parade. In my three years being a part of the Homecoming weekend, the parade has been the highlight.
As Saturday's parade transpired, I took some mental notes so that I
could recount my experience and share with you how the parade inspired me:
We (Singing Men of Ohio) met at 8:45 a.m. at the BP gas station on
Stimson Avenue, a place we thought we could find, since none of us
really knew how to navigate the residential side of Athens. We figured it would be best to get lost as one green-jacketed unit rather than as individuals.
We found Wallace Street with no problem, and the temperature started to rise from its 45-degree start. As the guys started to warm up, so did their spirits. Yelling, laughing and singing soared through the no longer quiet residential street.
At 9:30 a.m. we began preparing, and I learned that, from a musical
standpoint, it’s hard to arrange the men so the sound can be best presented in four rows. Arranging the rowdy bunch into a coherent unit proved to be harder than memorizing any piece we were singing.
These worries disappeared the moment we started marching. The noise and the happiness of the crowd drowned out any apprehensions, and also any imperfections we may have committed. It was important for the crowd to hear us sing the University's alma mater and fight song. They absolutely loved both, but the crowd was yearning to hear us chant and cheer.
We hit the masses on Court Street at about 10:15 a.m. and I turned to look at the faces of the men behind me. The freshmen were wide-eyed and smiling. It made me think back to two years ago when I first saw the crowd that now surrounds us on both sides. I smiled inwardly when I realized that same look that was on the freshmen’s faces at this moment was also on mine. That feeling never goes away, and the response it elicits from within me will forever stay unchanging.
Everywhere you looked there are people in green, all dancing and
cheering. As parade participants, we saw our friends all along Court
Street and at that moment they seemed more excited to see us than ever before.
We marched on and the crowd changed from students to families as we approached Baker Center, where we were to sing the alma mater. To show respect for the university’s song, the President and his colleagues stood for our performance -- it was moving to have the president of a university stand for our group. The song ended, and so did our duties with the parade. The men were free to go until we sang again at the Homecoming football game against the University of Akron.
Homecoming weekend exemplifies the uniqueness of this student body among every Bobcat new and old. Marching down Court Street on that particular Saturday morning, I felt that same pride and uniqueness I’ve heard from others who’ve walked these brick streets before me.