Huntington High School’s Homecoming Day celebration was spectacular last Saturday with a parade down Main Street and up New York Avenue, a thrilling football game and a fun halftime show capped off by the crowning of a king and queen before a capacity crowd of 2,000 at Blue Devil Stadium.
“Homecoming was simply phenomenal this year, perhaps the best I can remember,” Principal Brenden Cusack said. “The dance, float night and the game all had stellar attendance and school spirit could be found everywhere. We had outstanding weather and our Blue Devils pulled off a very exciting win over Riverhead. What could be better? Days like these are perfect examples of what the Huntington community is all about and I’m so grateful to everyone who worked to make it happen.”
Homecoming Day king and queen, Ryan Smith
and Alexandra Lourenso. (Darin Reed photo)
The Huntington Booster Club was behind the creation of the first Homecoming Day parade in 1972. Since then its popularity has ebbed and flowed, but this year’s was one of the best ever as representatives from all eight school buildings in the district marched behind their banners.
The parade included hundreds of students, building principals and district level administrators, school board members, parents, teachers, teams, clubs, the Huntington Foundation and PTA and even two Huntington alums from the 1940s. Sue Verme from the Class of 1943 and Frank Lizzo from the Class of 1947 rode in an exquisitely restored 1939 coupe. Ms. Verme was the Blue Devil marching band’s first majorette while Mr. Lizzo played in the band.
Special event days were held throughout the week at the high school in the run-up to Saturday’s festivities. Thursday night’s dance attracted hundreds of students. Friday afternoon’s pep rally saw varsity teams introduced to deafening applause in the school gym. Athletes performed short skits and the Blue Devil marching band played for the crowd. There were also performances by the Highsteppers and Ready Step dance teams.
Each of the high school’s four classes built parade floats over a five hour period on Friday night. The teenagers were nourished by periodic slices of pizza. The floats were a big hit on Saturday as the parade made its way through the village and toward the high school.
Saturday’s activities played out in warm temperatures under bright sunshine. The Blue Devil marching band performed along the parade route, drawing merchants and customers out of stores and onto sidewalks.
“It was a beautiful day for a parade and football game,” Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “It was an even more beautiful day for the Huntington community. Record parade participation, four outstanding floats, a 20-19 Blue Devil victory, terrific performances by the marching band and Highsteppers and an incredible turnout. You couldn’t script it any better. Thank you to the Huntington High School student government for their tireless work throughout the past week and to all others who contributed!”
Homecoming was organized by the student government, including its school-wide executive board and faculty advisors Anthony Troffa and Frederick Bisogno. Individual classes and their officers, members and advisors were also heavily involved in the event, especially the construction of floats.
This year’s Royal Court included king nominees Sam Bergman, Kenneth Fajardo, Hugh Smith and Ryan Smith and queen nominees Christina Brilliante, Alexandra Lourenso, Emily Miron and Amber Stieve. The teenagers gathered on the Blue Devil Stadium running track and were introduced to the crowd. Ryan Smith and Ms. Lourenso were crowned as the king and queen, respectively.
“I had so much fun at the game with all my friends,” Ms. Lourenso said. “I was surprised that I was named the queen because I was nominated along with several other amazing girls, including one of my best friends, Amber Stieve. Overall, my last homecoming was very enjoyable. I can’t wait more senior festivities this year.”
The Class of 2018 won the float competition in a very tight race. The seniors amassed 194 points with the sophomores (190) and juniors (186) trailing closely behind. The announcement over the stadium’s public address system produced the expected roar from the crowd.
Alumni spanning many decades attended Saturday afternoon’s football game against Riverhead. The Booster Club manned the Blue Devil Stadium field house, offering an assortment of food and beverage choices, including grilled sports fare.
Messrs. Bisogno and Troffa spent many weeks working closely with the student government officers and individual class advisors to coordinate the week’s events. The two faculty advisors are veterans at guiding student leaders through all the organizational details associated with such a big undertaking.
“Homecoming could not have ran more smoothly this year,” Student Government President Lindsay Saginaw said. “It started off with an extremely well-executed float night. I’m so impressed with how cooperative everyone was; always ready to lend a helping hand to another class. It was such a beautiful day for homecoming as well, starting off with a spirited parade and ending with a Blue Devil win!”
Many people expressed the belief that more alumni returned for this year’s Homecoming Day than at any time in recent memory. “It was amazing to see just how many Huntington graduates were at the game today,” said Ron Wilson, a high school dean, member of the football staff and an alum himself. “I’m so grateful to be a Blue Devil. It was so good to see so many of our former players at the game. It was very emotional.”