K-State’s greeks try to stay afloat in parade competition

By Corene Brisendine

Three Greek houses have been working all hours of the day and night in preparation for Friday’s homecoming parade by building a float.

“We are like elves,” said Gabriel Noll, Theta Xi float chair. “We sing and build in the middle of the night.”

Every year members of Greek houses are paired up to build floats during the week of homecoming. This year the homecoming committee, composed of members from each house, put the members of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, Theta Xi fraternity and Sigma Chi fraternity together.

Molly Hogan, float chair for Alpha Delta Pi, said the float idea stemmed from the homecoming committee’s theme, “Adventures in Wildcatland.” From there, the float committee came up with “Catman” combining Batman with Willie the Wildcat for the float’s theme.

Julie Perrini, homecoming chair for Alpha Delta Pi, said once the committee, comprising members from each of the three houses, decided to recreate a night in Gotham City, they recruited architect majors from Sigma Chi and Theta Xi to come up with the actual design the members would “pomp” (meaning cover with squares of tissue paper) and build.

Once the design was created, Tommy Rappold, Sigma Chi float chair, took over. He said he cut out the plywood pieces and helped put the designs on the plywood so others could glue the pieces of tissue paper on them. Rappold said the workers have used about 15 sheets of plywood to make the cityscape, and they have about 20 or 30 two-by-fours ready to use as supports once the pomping is finished. He said they would start building the frame Thursday night and finish Friday morning.

That was where the 200 members of the combined houses rolled up their sleeves and began the tedious process of making 264,000 tubes of micro-pomp needed to cover the plywood.

Kelsey Ritz, Alpha Delta Pi float chair, said there are two ways to pomp a float. The easiest way is to build a frame out of chicken wire and stuff pieces of tissue paper into the holes. She said that although this is easy, the other way looks much better. The other way is micro-pomping. To accomplish this, the students must roll the tissue paper into tubes and glue them using a glue stick, then glue the tubes on end onto the plywood with wood glue.

“If you get the crappy glue sticks, it just ruins your night,” Noll said. “Some glue sticks are better than others. Don’t get the cheap ones.”

As of Thursday evening, the members had already gone through 5 gallons of wood glue and innumerable glue sticks, Ritz said.

The group has run into other supply problems, too. It was late Friday afternoon before the group was able to get all the black tissue paper they needed to complete the float because of backorders at Varney’s, and they were ready to improvise in case the paper didn’t arrive in time, Beckenhauer said.

All the committee members said the micro-pomping is extremely tedious, but well worth the effort. Last year, Alpha Delta Pi took second place in the float-making contest.

“Making [the tubes] is the worst,” said Kevin Wolf, sophomore in Sigma Chi. “I would rather be gluing them on.”

Wolf said last weekend the house hosted a watch party while the K-State football team was in West Virginia, but that didn’t stop the members from working on their float. He said there were Alpha Delta Pi members sitting on the back patio pomping and watching the game at the same time.

David Beckenhauer, president of Sigma Chi, said everyone had been working every possible moment on the pomping for the past two weeks. He said they had probably spent 35 hours a week per person working on the float in order to get it put together in time.

“We put a lot of time in it,” Ritz said. “I lost count.”

Wolf said that on Wednesday night the members of all three houses worked until 2 a.m. pomping boards in an effort to finish before the Friday deadline. On Thursday, Bechenhauer said they ordered pizza for 200 people and held an all-nighter in order to finish.

“We got some pump-up music,” Perrini said. “We got some snacks. We had pizza. So everybody’s bellies are full.”

Tissue paper and plywood are not the only things the houses are using to build their float. Noll is in charge of building the Catmobile—a cardboard version of the Batmobile for their Gotham scene. On Thursday, Noll said the crowd would have to wait and see how the car turned out, but it would be about 6 feet long and 4 feet wide.

Beckenhauer said that with all the time spent building the float, he has enjoyed getting to know the members of the other two houses. He said they usually don’t get that opportunity during the rest of the year.

With Alpha Delta Pi taking second last year, and Theta Xi taking first place, Sigma Chi has the best two houses on campus working with them to build an outstanding float this year.

“We wouldn’t be able to do this without the help of A.D. Pi and Theta Xi,” Beckenhauer said.

He said the “pairing” is based on size of the houses and ratio of men to women. The Sigma Chi house is the biggest house out of the three and has the most space, which is why the float building was stationed in the Sigma Chi house.

Not only do the members have a limited amount of time, they are also limited on how much money they can spend on the float. The K-State Alumni Association, who hosts the homecoming events, put a limit of $1,250 each team can spend on supplies. Ritz said the alumni center gives the group money and each house also provides a budget. Then the group pools the money in order to buy supplies for the float.

Even though the float is the biggest project for homecoming week, the houses have also competed in other events to win best in spirit. Those events include Pant the Chant, Paint the ‘Ville, a children’s carnival, campus spirit signs, a 5k race and more.

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