An Electric Homecoming Day
It didn't rain on Huntington High School's Homecoming Day parade, but some precipitation did fall later during Saturday afternoon's football game. Yet, it didn't dampen the enthusiasm of a huge crowd estimated at more than 2,000. The festivities capped off a fun-filled week that included spirit days at the school, a pep rally, float building and an evening dance in the school gym.
Second year Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky got his wish for much greater district participation in the homecoming parade. Hundreds of students of all ages turned out for 12 noon trek through the heart of the village and up New York Avenue, accompanied by parents, teachers, family members and alumni.
"The district-wide turnout for the parade was tremendous and contributed to a true community celebration," Mr. Polansky said. "It was yet another day during which I was so genuinely proud to be a part of the Huntington School District community.
Following the parade, there was a short ceremony in the plaza outside the doors to Louis D. Giani Gymnasium. Two handsome benches purchased by the Huntington Booster Club in memory of fallen alums Patrick McCourt and Courtney O'Bryan were dedicated as family and friends paid tribute to two special people in the school's history. A dozen of Ms. O'Bryan's Penn State University classmates traveled to Huntington for the ceremony.
Mr. Polansky called the blue metal benches "beautiful" and said he was "privileged" to attend the short ceremony, which was presided over by Director of Athletics Georgia D. McCarthy.
Halftime of the football game saw exciting performances by the Blue Devil marching band and the Highsteppers, the school's competitive dance team. Royal Court members Pat Reilly, Devon Nelson, Geoffrey Feinberg, TJ Greenhill, Stephanie Rafuse, Rachel Stollmack, Joey Tuozzo and Claire Beach were introduced to the crowd before Mr. Nelson and Ms. Beach were crowned homecoming king and queen, respectively.
Huntington High School Principal Carmela Leonardi and Assistant Principal Brenden Cusack marched side-by-side in the noon parade and then stood on the sidelines, cheering the Huntington football team, which appeared headed to its fourth consecutive victory without a loss this season before Amityville staged a late fourth quarter rally to nip the Blue Devils, 20-19.
"Although the Blue Devils fell a point short in the culminating football game, the kids fought hard and the crowd was electric," Mr. Polansky said. Rain thinned out part of the crowd, but those that stayed were treated to a thrilling finish.
The Class of 2015 won the colorful float competition, which this year adhered to a superheroes theme. Heavy rain Friday evening forced students to move their float building activities indoors. Freshmen and sophomores utilized the buildings and grounds department garages in the rear of the school while juniors took over the old auto shop area. Seniors built their float in the Blue Devil Stadium field house. Students working on the floats were treated to pizza and refreshments to give them the energy to keep going until 11 p.m.
Friday afternoon's pep rally saw uniformed players introduced by their coaches. Some players ran into the gym wearing costumes and many teams performed short skits. The chamber choir gave an unforgettable rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner before varsity teams entered to near deafening applause as their respective theme songs blared.
The pep rally also featured typically hip performances by the Highsteppers and the Ready Step team and thunderous music by the Blue Devil marching band and color guard. The event was presided over by physical education teacher Kim Damore, who is planning to retire at the end of the school year.
Saturday's parade was much larger than those seen in recent years. Students and PTA members carried banners, the Ready Step team and the Highsteppers performed along the parade route. The Huntington Booster Club was out in full force at the football game. The organization's distinctive blue and white trailer was stocked with Blue Devil gear and goods and there were lines at its food and refreshment concession stand.
Some alumni continued celebrating into the night at area establishments. "This year's homecoming was a blast," one high school student said. It was hard to find anyone dissenting from that sentiment.