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Phoenix High School restores homecoming parade

Phoenix High School and the city of Phoenix have teamed up to host the school’s — and quite possibly the town’s — first parade down Main Street.

The school’s homecoming parade, scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, was thrown together in just over a month but has already garnered more than 30 entrants, as well as the enthusiasm of students and community members alike.

“This is the first time that I’m aware of — and I've lived here for the last 24 years — that we've had a parade run down Main Street,” said Phoenix Mayor Jeff Bellah. “And the first time in a long time that the whole community has come together to support the high school.

“I was amazed by the excitement,” he added.

About a decade ago, Phoenix hosted its bicentennial parade on Rose Street, and back in the '70s, the high school held homecoming parades. But this is the first time on Main Street, said Carolyn Bartell, a city council member who volunteered to help organize the festivities.

In September, Oregon Department of Transportation gave the school and city permission to close down Highway 99 South for about an hour Wednesday evening for the parade.

Highway 99 North will accommodate both northbound and southbound traffic during that time, Bellah explained.

Parts of First, Fifth and Rose streets also will be closed from about 5:45 to 6:45 p.m., Bartell said.

The parade with Principal Jani Hale as grand marshal will start at the corner of Rose and First streets, continue down First Street to Main Street, also Highway 99 South, and then proceed down to Fifth Street before reconnecting with Rose Street and ending at the high school, 745 N. Rose St.

At the high school, there will be a barbecue fundraiser to benefit the PHS football team and a school powder puff game. Dinner costs $6 and includes hamburgers, chips and water and will be served on the football field.

“I think our football team will be amazed by the support they will receive,” said Breeze Chapman, a PHS instructional assistant and leadership adviser who has spearheaded the parade from the school’s end.

Chapman has been working with the high school leadership team to make two floats for the parade. One, a papier mache pirate ship, will be pulled behind her red, Dodge pickup.

"When I was in high school (back in 1993), we did a noise parade and would load up in the backs of pickup trucks and honk our horns," Chapman recalled. "But it wasn't a real parade. I'm hoping this will bring back some of that school spirit and excitement."

Chapman, a self-declared “Pinterest Queen,” said the ship is made with brown paper bags, flour paste and PVC pipe donated by her husband’s landscaping company. It also has a salvaged umbrella stand for a mast.

Other school clubs, including the Art Club and Future Farmers of America club, also will have floats, as will the football and cheerleading squads.

The Rogue Valley Corvette Club will escort Hale and the homecoming court down the parade route, while Bellah and Talent Mayor Bill Cecil will ride together in a 1941 Ford convertible loaned to them for the event.

The Phoenix-Talent Ford Foundation, the First Phoenix Community Center and a couple Pop Warner football teams also will participate. And Fire District 5 will be showcasing its oldest and newest engines — a 1946 Chevy fire engine and a 2014 Pierce fire engine.

Kids in the area or “future Pirates” are invited to dress up like pirates and walk in the parade. The youngster with the best costume will be awarded some candy and tickets to the PHS haunted house at the end of the month, Chapman said.

Bellah said he’d like to see the homecoming parade become an annual affair and, hopefully, next year be followed by a community-wide bonfire.

Reach reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.

Correction: The Rogue Valley Corvette Club and not the Southern Oregon Corvette Club will be escorting the Jani Hale and the homecoming court at the parade.