MONTCLAIR, NJ - No permit, no parade. That's what Homecoming parade organizers were told by township officials after learning of the amount of people expected to participate in the 2015 Homecoming procession.
In the end, it all worked out favorably for everyone.
As far back as anyone can remember, there was always a procession of the band, color guard and cheerleaders marching from the campus of Montclair High School to Woodman Field. "So, why the fuss?" mumbled some fans.
This year, everyone was told, differed from years past. Students and parents worked together on decorating floats and organizing sports teams, clubs and alumni to participate in the procession.
Alumni from the Class of '65 gathered for the weekend to celebrate their homecoming. Class of '65 Alumni cheerfully expressed that over 100 of them had been partying at Tierney's the night before.
Andrea Whitton, '65, marched in the procession along with her fellow classmates. Proudly holding a banner that read: "We're the Class of '65 and We're Still Alive."
Whitton said, "I'm here for my 50th reunion. We're looking forward to having a wonderful time and we already started having a wonderful time last night." She and her classmates laughed as they shared memories of Friday night at Tierney's.
Ellen Hodges Saul, '65, chimed in, "You could either look at the person you were talking to next to you or you could listen to what they were saying, but they both couldn't happen at the same time because there were so many people....and the music was great. We shared so many stories." Saul, Whitton and their classmates chuckled about the memorable evening.
When hundreds responded that they were participating in the usually minor procession, township officials realized that permits were now required for street closures and escorts.
In response, parents took to social media and made phone calls to local leaders to gain support for having a parade anyway.
Although off to a rocky start when parade organizers were informed that permits needed to be filed for the amount of people expected to participate in the procession this year, it all worked out favorably for everyone.
Township Manager Tim Stafford and Sgt. Stephanie Egnezzo helped to make it happen overnight, literally. In just one day, the procession was approved and instead of marching from the school, participants would march down the street.
Stafford and his staff sprung into quick action to assist parade organizers in filing necessary permits to host the parade. A compromise was made when organizers were told that they could assemble at Clary Anderson Arena and march to Woodman Field from there.
On game day, students assembled and banners were given out to the various sports teams and marchers.
Students and the band still marched from MHS like they had always done decades before and met up with the procession at Clary Anderson Arena where the positive energy and smiling faces seemed like just what the doctor ordered to breathe life back into the MHS football program.
After a four-game losing streak, the Mountie football team won their season's first game against Seton Hall Prep. The crowd went wild.
In the last few seconds of the game, the Pirates attempted a comeback, but it was too late. The Pirates couldn't push past the Mounties defense and the energized Mountie crowd, ending with a final score of 28-26.