The drum roll of numerous marching bands carried through the streets of downtown Missoula as community members of all ages lined up to march in the University of Montana homecoming parade on Saturday.
Numerous student organizations, marching bands and community groups gathered with floats, banners and bags of candy as they waited for the parade to begin.
Among the floats was a Scooby-Doo-themed creation featuring a haunted house and a van painted as The Mystery Machine. The float was an all-out effort by UM Housing staff and students who dressed up as the iconic Mystery, Inc., members and ghosts.
Jerome Steen, a painter for UM Housing and the visionary behind the float, said they decided to go with the Scooby-Doo theme because they already had the Mystery Machine van.
“It was a vehicle that the university was going to get rid of so then we decided ‘well, let’s keep it and paint it and use it for when students arrive for the fall season,'” Steen said.
The elaborate haunted house construction included shuttered windows that opened and closed to reveal ghosts, a barren tree with crow props and tattered mossy shingles they reused from a previous construction project. Some members of the group carried candy in boxes decorated to look like Scooby Snacks.
The float was a collaboration among UM Housing employees that showcased their line of work.
“It’s to represent each of the crafts, so we have painters holding paint brushes, plumbers will have plumbing stuff, carpenters, electricians, things like that,” said Kari Neal, a UM Housing facility technician dressed as Daphne wearing a purple dress, an orange wig, a green scarf tied in a knot around her neck and roller skates.
A sign reading “UM Housing is Montana Strong” in the classic Scooby-Doo green and aqua colors hung on the side of the float to go with the overall theme of the parade, “Montana Strong.”
Around the corner, the Missoula Pug Club proved that elaborate floats aren’t the only way to be a crowd favorite.
“You can hear the Pug Club coming down the street ’cause people start screaming,” said Heather McDonald, a proud pug owner. To go with the “Montana Strong” theme, several of the dog owners dressed their furry friends in superhero costumes.
Jennie Pak, the founder of Missoula Pug Club, came with her one-eyed pug, Winky, dressed in a Wonder Woman-esque costume. “She’s Winky the Wonder Pup,” Pak said.
Pak created the Pug Club when she got a pug and wanted it to have play dates with other dogs. She said they have been part of the parade for about 10 years.
While floats and pounds of candy accompanied many groups, the Pug Club proved that showing up and being part of the community is the main reason many come to the parade. Although, Pak admitted that she is a bit biased. “We are the reason people come to the parade,” she said.