Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Drifter pride on the march again

In Colonial Beach, Drifter pride on the march again
October 13, 2007 12:35 am

A 16-minute parade of convertibles, school spirit and hometown pride has ended a 15-year lapse in tradition for Colonial Beach High School.

In the school's first homecoming parade since 1992, a new generation of Drifters strutted, beamed and waved to an adoring Colonial Avenue crowd.

But it was not like the old days, said Kristin Setliff Jack, Class of 1990.

"Back then, it was small, just the football team, cheerleaders and the homecoming princes and princesses from the four classes. That was it. It just sort of died out," she said.

It was born again at sunset Thursday with every convertible Tricia Anderson Runyon (Class of '88) said she "could beg, borrow, plea or steal."

Now a teacher, Runyon and coach Gail Parent Tinsley (Class of '73) helped the Student Council Association sponsor the parade "to bring back the tradition and boost school spirit with community involvement."

The parade in the chilly breeze was a warm-up for last night's football game with King William High School and tonight's homecoming dance.

"A lot of friendly people were willing to help out," Runyon said of the 74-unit parade that began near the town's elementary school and ended at a party on the high-school parking lot.

School and town officials and political candidates, all of them grinning, tossed out handfuls of candy from golf carts, Corvettes, Miatas, Mustangs, Camaros, Sebrings and Solaras.

Drifter colors of gold and black were everywhere. "Bad" was the word School Superintendent Alice H. Howard used to describe her leather suit of tight gold slacks and matching bolero jacket with rhinestone buttons.

"I'm going to be street dancing with the children," she said as she helped eighth-graders tie gold and black balloons to a pickup before the parade.

"I blew up most of the balloons," said Ernest Bailey, (Class of 2012). "And I also moved the crepe paper away from the tailpipe so it wouldn't catch fire."

"Beach Party" was the float's theme. The truck was loaded with students, beach chairs, boogie boards, inner tubes, palm trees, flip-flops, swim fins, sunglasses and visors.

All of it was enough to win the eighth-graders an award for school spirit.

The parade was the first ever for the Colonial Beach Marching Band. Comprised of elementary students, the band received its first instruments just two weeks ago and carried them proudly.

But only the drummers played. "It was fun! I hope we can do another one," said fifth-grade drummer J.W. Musselman (Class of '15).

Bringing up the rear was Austin Bergmann (Class of '10), aka "Petie the Pirate," the personification of the spirit of the 250-pupil high school.

"I've got a few buttons missing on my outfit, but they say they're going to upgrade the costume next year," said Bergmann as he waited, eye-patched headpiece in hand, for the parade to begin.

"I'm more than a mascot. I'm the living, breathing spirit of the school. I bring a lot of energy and I'm a good dancer. I've got a few dance moves I'm going to unleash."

When Petie the Pirate finally pranced home to the high school, the lights were on at the football field, the parking lot was full of people and Superintendent Howard was at the microphone.

"This is just the beginning," she promised. "Next year will be even bigger and better. Right, students?"

The hungry ate hot dogs. The chilly drank hot chocolate. The young piled on in tugs of war on the football field. The macho bashed a 1984 Chrysler sedan with a sledgehammer.

School Board member Steve Warner (Class of '78) manned the sound system. He announced:

"We've got the tug-of-war set up, the car bash going on, beach music playing and a beautiful sunset. What more could you want? Happy Homecoming, everybody."

Frank Delano: 804/333-3834
The Journal Press Inc. • P. O. Box 409 • King George • VA • 22485

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