CLEMSON – Clemson fans of all ages will gather in the streets of Tiger Town at 6 p.m. Friday for the annual First Friday Parade.
The parade tradition stretches back 43 years and is always celebrated the Friday before the first home football game. This year, the football game will begin at noon Saturday against Kent State University.
In 1974, perceived low spirits plagued the football team, whose last winning season was 1967. The Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity paired with the Central Spirit Committee to hold a parade to raise morale before the team’s first home game against Georgia Tech. The parade was dubbed the “Wreck Tech Parade.” It has continued as an annual tradition since then.
This year’s theme is “Legacy of Champions” and it celebrates all of the current, future and past tigers who have and continue to make their own paw prints across the world, leaving a legacy for future Tigers.
More than 70 organizations are participating in the event, including university departments, student groups, community groups and both Panhellenic and service sororities.
Panhellenic and service sororities will select a member from each their chapters to represent them in the Miss First Friday contest. The contest is a competition in which sororities try to raise the most money in the “penny wars.” From Monday to Thursday on the Cooper Library bridge, students may place money in jars representing each group. The contestant who raises the most money, which will be donated to the group’s philanthropic cause, will be deemed Miss First Friday 2017.
Clemson alumnus and Air Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond is the parade grand marshal. Raymond is the first four-star general who graduated from Clemson. He currently is the head of Space Command for the United States Air Force.
The parade route will start at the intersection of Cherry Road and Highway 93 and will continue along Highway 93 to the lower intramural fields at Williamson Road.
Immediately following the parade, the men’s’ soccer team will play USC at Riggs field. At halftime, there will be a pep rally in which the winners of the Banner Competition and Miss First Friday will be announced.
Both the parade and pep rally are coordinated by Clemson Central Spirit and will be held weather permitting.
Newman and Morrison Roads will be closed at 4 p.m. before the parade. Parkway Drive will be barricaded at 4:30 p.m. for parade preparations. Cherry Road will close at 5:30 p.m. and Highway 93 will be closed from 5:40 p.m. until the end of the parade.
For information regarding Clemson Area Transit (CAT) route deviations, visit the CAT Facebook page.