The parade that time forgot
News flash: Coronado parade tradition started in ‘81, not school’s 1st year

       “Parade started at 8 a.m. It was short and sweet! Community seemed to enjoy the idea. We could have started a tradition!”

The general zaniness of the annual Coronado High School Homecoming Parade through Old Colorado City is captured in this photo looking east from 25th Street during the 2007 event. As family, friends and supporters line the parade route, floats roll by, augmented by a Cougar mascot and even a unicycle, and the students proudly display their alma mater's red and gold.
Westside Pioneer photo

       - Coronado High Student Cabinet minutes, Oct. 5, 1981
       There's no question that Coronado High School's students work hard on the annual Homecoming Parade, especially the elected Student Cabinet. The group raises money for the event, works out necessary details with city officials, organizes it and even participates in it.
       So should they also be expected to know how many years it's been going on?
       That surprise question came up after Coronado successfully produced what was billed as the 41st annual Homecoming Parade Sept. 29. As in previous years, the event involved a loud, colorful Saturday morning jaunt through Old Colorado City (followed by a pep rally at Bancroft Park), which kicked off activities culminating with the Homecoming football game that afternoon and the school dance that evening.
       But 41st annual? Dating the first parade back to fall 1971, the first full year that Coronado was on West Fillmore? This is what the current year's 15-member Student Cabinet had been led to believe. In fact, that's been the “history” handed down by previous Cabinets - and the school in general - for a number of years.

The Merle and Earl characters, a one-time student tradition at Coronado High School, were part of the first Homecoming Parade down Colorado Avenue in 1981.
From Coronado 1982 yearbook, courtesy of Kevin Jardine

Kevin Jardine - 1982 senior class photo.
Courtesy of Kevin Jardine

       Somewhere along the way Coronado's collective memory forgot the 1981-82 school year, when Student President Kevin Jardine and his Cabinet brainstormed, gained support for, detailed, and then carried out the actual first Homecoming Parade Oct. 3, 1981.
       The 1982 yearbook included a paragraph about it: “Finally the big day arrived, and with it, our first parade, held in Old Colorado City. It was a day to rise and shine, as this first activity occurred at 8 a.m. Charlie Cougar led the processional followed by the cheerleaders, band, cowboys and several clubs. It ended at Bancroft Park with orange drink and donuts for all.”
       Coronado Assistant Principal Darin Smith, himself a 1990 graduate, admitted that, even during his years as a student, he had never heard any mention of that first parade. But researching the issue this fall, he was able to verify it happened, not only by checking the 1982 yearbook, but the 1983 as well, which referred to the '82 Homecoming Parade as the “second annual.”
       On hearing the news about the actual first-parade date, Drew MacMillan, the current Coronado student president who had led the implementation of this fall's parade, said it's “real interesting to me.” Plans had been in place to advertise the 2012 parade as the 42nd annual, but they will have to be changed, he observed.
       The true history surfaced only because Kevin Jardine's sister Heather, who still lives in the area (and whose husband, Todd Adamscheck, also went to Coronado), saw the Westside Pioneer's article about the “41st annual” parade in September. So she e-mailed the paper, noting her brother's 1981 involvement and asking for a correction. Last September's event “was in fact, the 31st annual Homecoming Parade,” she pointed out.
       She put the Pioneer in touch with her brother, who now resides in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he is human resources director at the General Dynamics company. He'd gone to college at Arizona State and has also lived in Denver and California.
       “That year they [school officials] were going through all kinds of budget cuts,” Jardine recalled in a phone conversation. “They told us student government didn't have a budget, so we were wracking our brains. We spent the whole summer talking about things we could do for the school year, what we could come up with to start a tradition. Somehow we decided a parade would be great idea. Being naïve high school students, we didn't realize that would cost money. And when we did, we decided we could go and ask for stuff.”
       The minutes of Student Cabinet meetings, which Jardine still has, reveal some of the groundwork that took place - fitting the parade to that year's Homecoming theme (“Wild, Wild West”), holding a fundraising car wash, talking to different clubs about joining the parade, creating banners, confirming plans with Westside merchants, handing out flyers, getting bags for the parking meters, deciding the number of barricades, confirming donated food, making arrangements with the local Model A club to transport the Homecoming queen candidates, arranging trash containers and notifying the media.

A recent photo of Kevin Jardine, with his wife Annie.
Courtesy of Kevin Jardine

       The Coronado teacher who served as the Cabinet advisor in those days was Lois Fornander. She remembers, and Heather Adamscheck agrees, that 1981 was not only the year that started the parade tradition, it was also the year that ended the previous bonfire tradition. Until then, at Homecoming the students had always lit a huge bonfire on the upper field. “Kissing Camels residents just hated it; they went nuts,” said Fornander, who was at Coronado from 1980 until her retirement in 2003. “I'm pretty sure students weren't given a permit for it that year [1981], so they were looking for an alternative that would be exciting.”
       Sue Tate taught at Coronado from its opening in fall 1970 (when its students took classes the first couple of months at Palmer because the facility on West Fillmore wasn't ready in time) until 2000. Another early Homecoming tradition was the performance of a play - typically in the theme of that year's Homecoming. The bonfires, lit in the middle of the upper field, were serious affairs. “The goal every year, was to see if it could be bigger than last year,” Tate said.
       Fornander's recollection of the '81 parade was of a “pretty good turnout. Kids brought their families. There was lots of energy.”
       It was a smaller parade at first. The list, which Kevin dug out of his personal files, lists 14 entries in all, compared with 30 or more in recent years. One difference was that the feeder schools had not yet been involved. Other modern parade entries that weren't in the first parade were those representing the classes (seniors, juniors etc.), or any sports teams except football.
       One entry that's continued the whole time is the Coronado band. In that first parade, the band - which at the time had marching uniforms, including hats with feathers - went last. The recent tradition has the band leading off, which gives them time to set up for the pep rally in Bancroft Park.
       Another 1981 parade entry was a student baton- twirling group. They weren't in a school program, but must have learned it somewhere in town, Tate believes. She agreed that such talents are rare nowadays; certainly, no twirlers have been seen in any recent Home-coming Parades.
       Jardine said he was impressed at the first parade by Quinto Sol, then a Chicano dance club at Coronado. “They were extremely good,” he said. “They won all kinds of awards.”
       In 1981, the parade costs were lower and the regulations less stringent than they have since become. Jardine's recollection is that all the students had to raise was about $500 to pay the costs for the police and to close down the avenue.
       According to Fornander, the city demands increased incrementally after that. “The first year it was easy to get a permit, and have volunteers put up barriers,” she said. “It got harder in later years.”
       Nowadays, the cost for the parade has escalated to more than $3,000. A permit must be applied for before the school year even starts. Also, the barricades are no longer free and off-duty police costs are rising.
       A more informal relationship with City Police is implicit in some of the 1981 Cabinet minutes. Here are a couple of entries: “Lori reported that she talked to [a person] about police for the parade. He will be glad to do it for us and he is going to ask his buddies about it… Nancy also said that her dad can line up some police for us.”
       Fornander has fond memories of the 1981-82 cabinet. “They were an outstanding, conscientious group,” she said. “They were skilled students, not overwhelmed by academics. And they were responsible, trying to set a good example for the school.”
       No one really knows how the 1981 memory got lost. One reality is that the Student Cabinet typically has a large - sometimes complete - turnover from year to year. Coming in with fresh energy, the attitude can tend toward “out with the old and in with the new,” Fornander said. She experienced such zeal first-hand in one of her later years as student advisor, when the new cabinet accidentally threw out student government files she had catalogued, including historical documents.
       Another theory was offered by Heather Adamscheck, who graduated in 1985. “Back then, Coronado took in a smaller area, with siblings from families going there that knew each other,” she said. “Now it's so big, there are kids from all over the city, and people moving in and out more than then.”
       In recent years, the Cabinet has not had a member who was assigned to do record-keeping. Smith thinks this may have contributed to some history falling by the wayside. The record-keeping task has been revived this year, the assistant principal elaborated.
       MacMillan, the current student president, can only speak for his term regarding student history. He explained that a folder of information gets passed on from one president to the next. “It looks like this [the information about 1981 being the first parade] has been out of the folder for a while,” he said.

Westside Pioneer article