Tradition continues to die with the LOHS Homecoming Parade


Beth Ryan Collection/Lake Oswego Public Library

The 1964 homecoming queen in downtown LO on the corner of Second St. and A Ave.

Madeleine Herion, Design/Photography Editor

Volume 71, Issue 1

October 3, 2022

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my time at LOHS, it’s that we’re a school of tradition. And no, I’m not just talking about the tradition of seniors getting to sit at the front at football games (although, that is very important). I’m talking about the traditions that hold together the Lake Oswego community and date back to the founding of our school in 1951.

Have you ever wondered why LOHS refuses to move the graduation ceremony to another location other than the school, even though Lakeridge made the switch years ago? Tradition. Or why ASB was determined to make May Fete happen last year even though they knew it would be a bit of a mess? Tradition. Or even why we sing that old-fashioned “Alma Mater ” song at practically every school gathering? You guessed it, tradition.

Alumni, staff and students of Lake Oswego High School love sticking to their roots and fight to make sure future generations won’t change our culture. So, I ask, why are we so easily giving up on one of the oldest traditions in not only the high school’s history, but the city of Lake Oswego itself?

The annual Homecoming Parade has taken place every year since the doors of Lake Oswego High School opened 71 years ago. And according to the Lake Oswego Library Photo Archives, the parade has always been a march down A Avenue in Downtown LO. 

Last year in fall 2021, the Homecoming Parade returned after its cancellation in 2020 due to COVID-19. However, it did not look the same as remembered. The parade had a new route: instead of starting at the top of A Avenue near Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, it began at Lake Oswego Junior High and finished across Country Club Road at the high school. The excuse for the change was, of course COVID-19, and everyone accepted that because just like all the other pandemic policies, we expected them to be temporary.

Unfortunately, the location change for the Homecoming Parade will live on, indefinitely. The city of Lake Oswego informed the high school that in order to continue the century-long legacy of the parade on A Avenue, we would have to hand over $10 thousand to cover the cost of “necessary” security measures in the rare case of a mass shooting attempt.

There are so many gaps in judgment in this decision. First off, our school is going to have the parade no matter what, so why would moving down the street all of about 1.8 miles dramatically change the safety of the event? Second, every single day we attend a school that could potentially be the target of a shooting. Yet, we have at most two armed school resource officers who are only in our building part time. The chances of being involved in an active shooter incident on school grounds is much higher than being involved in a shooting at a parade. 

And finally, $10 thousand? There are so many better things the school district could be using $10 thousand for, hence the decision to not host the parade in the traditional location. But why in the world would we need $10 thousand of security for a 15 minute high school parade? That is more money than some celebrities spend on security for an entire month. Obviously, the event would not need that much security and the whole debacle seems suspiciously like a way for the city government to take advantage of the high school administration and steal money from school donor’s pockets. Moreover, the $10 thousand fee takes away freedom from LOHS and its students. If an individual was scared of their wellbeing at the parade, they wouldn’t go. But for the hundreds of my peers and teachers and I who feel perfectly comfortable walking down the street in the city that we live in, we cannot make that choice for ourselves. We cannot uphold the tradition of our school because of the barrier the city government has placed in front of it.

If the city government is choosing to limit a high school parade because of the miniscule chance of an active shooter, then what else could they be ready to take away? Will all community events be restricted to a $10 thousand price tag for security? If that is not the city government’s future plan, then why this event? Why should this parade be the exception when there are plenty of larger, higher attended events every year. 

To me, it simply does not make sense. I understand the alarm that the recent Highland Park fourth of July parade shooting caused, but it was exactly as the news sites called it: a crazy freak incident that was tragic, but rare. It almost never happens. And if the city council is unable to cope with the one in a million chance that Lake Oswego could be next, I challenge them to step into my shoes. 

When I wake up in the morning and get ready for school, I am not thinking about the possibility of dying in class today. I know, in the back of my mind, that maybe I could. It could be my last bowl of Cheerios, my last hug that I give my mom, or the last time I turn on my car. But I cannot focus on that every time I walk through the doors of LOHS. If I did, that would be a really challenging and depressing way to live life. However, I do take that tiny risk every single day. I am actually required by law to attend school. I am required by law to put myself in a possibly dangerous situation, one that is statistically much more dangerous than watching the marching band outside Salt and Straw.

Life is supposed to be about love and excitement and memories. The Homecoming Parade should be one of our greatest memories. One day, I want to look through the Library Archives and see photos of my own classmates marching down A Avenue and place it right next to the one from 1964, amazed by the tradition that this town has been able to uphold and happy to know that I was part of an ongoing legacy that will be cherished by generations to come. But if the cancellation of once memorable events begins now, I don’t see it ever ending. We cannot allow our government to control us with a price tag and make choices solely based on the one in a million chance we are the target of gun violence. If we do, the people they govern will quickly follow along and soon the ridiculous concept of confining ourselves to our homes, cowering in the corners, and hiding from humanity will no longer be a dystopian matter, it will be reality.