University of Minnesota
October 28, 2008
Gopher fans will have a special treat at the homecoming parade on Saturday morning—a rare visit from Mickey Mouse. The parade runs along University Avenue from Pleasant Street to Williams Arena.
Photo: Patrick O'Leary
A magical mascot comes to campus
By Rick Moore
Autumn has taken hold in Minnesota. Eighty-degree temps have migrated to the south, and the 70s have booked their nonrefundable ticket. Gone are the high sun, the need for sunscreen, and a good share of our leaves. In other words, it must be homecoming time.
This year marks the last Golden Gopher homecoming football game away from campus at the Metrodome. So what better a theme for this year's homecoming than "Marching into the Future"—a future that features a new on-campus stadium opening next fall.
And what better a way to celebrate than with an epic parade led by—among others—a mascot that evokes glee in kids both young and old.
That's right: Mickey Mouse, who probably has more experience leading parades than anyone else in history, is coming to town!
(Sorry Goldy, you're our rodent of choice for the other 365 days of the leap year and the other 99 homecomings of the millennium, but when Mickey books a flight north, we have to roll out the maroon carpet.)
Accompanying Mickey and serving as the human grand marshal of the parade is Stan Freese, notable U alumnus and the talent booking director for Walt Disney Companies. Freese, one of the featured speakers at the University of Minnesota Alumni Association's annual celebration in 2007, pointed out the significance of his friend’s visit:
"It is rare, indeed, that Mickey Mouse ever ventures out of his Disney theme-park home, which makes this year's parade appearance especially exciting for me," said Freese, who is also chair of the fund-raising effort for the U Marching Band's new practice space at TCF Bank Stadium.
Mickey did not immediately return calls from a reporter, but was said to be smiling ear to gigantic ear in anticipation of his visit to Minnesota, where the mice are hardy and the campus can be—especially after a Gopher win—the happiest place in the Midwest.
The 2008 homecoming celebration began on October 27 and culminates with the game-day festivities on November 1. The parade starts at 9 a.m. on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis, with the route beginning at Pleasant Street and traveling east along University Avenue to Williams Arena.
At 11 a.m. the 20th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers will host the Northwestern Wildcats at the Metrodome. The Gophers have won three straight games and are now 3-1 in the Big Ten, 7-1 overall, and assured of a bid to a bowl game. With a win, the Gophers would be in historic territory; the last time they were 8-1 was in 1960, the year of their last national championship under coach Murray Warmath.
Other homecoming events include a Thursday pep rally in the "Superblock" area (with appearances by head football coach Tim Brewster and men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith) and a Red Cross blood drive.
A complete schedule of homecoming events, including times and locations, can be found at homecoming.umn.edu.