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March 23, 2015

CSU students walk in St. Patrick’s Day parade

By Abbey White

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Members of the Cleveland State University community came out in numbers to show their Viking pride during the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on Tuesday, March 17.

The university’s Department of Special Events organized participation for the parade, which saw alumni, student and student organization involvement during one of Cleveland’s biggest annual events.

The school’s official colors of green and white were well represented through floats, banners, foam-core signs and Viking helmets as spirited volunteers marched from the intersection of Superior Avenue and East 18th Street to Rockwell Avenue and East 3rd Street.

A Baja car — built by several engineering students for the Society of Automotive Engineers annual intercollegiate design competition — also made an appearance, along with Cleveland State University’s parade staple, the Engage Jeep.

The showing was a solid demonstration of the vibrant culture that can be found on campus.

That culture happens to be something Heather McNally Milko, manager of Special Events at Cleveland State, wanted the parade’s attendees to take away from their experience with the university’s parade unit.

“We are a dynamic, diverse and engaged university,” Milko said.

For the event, students from several campus organizations designed and constructed their own creative representations of what it means to be a Viking.

The university’s participants were comprised of representatives from the Cleveland State street team, Newman Catholic Campus Ministry, Student Alumni Association, Cleveland State rowing team, several campus fraternities and sororities, the university’s Society of Automotive Engineers chapter and Cleveland State’s student radio station WCSB.

Although this year’s parade is not the first time the university has participated in the city-wide event, it’s only the second time it has had as much involvement from past and present campus members.

That’s not an accident. In recent years, Cleveland State has made a serious effort to increase the impact of its presence at one of the largest attended city-wide events of the year.

“Rob Spademan (chief marketing officer at Cleveland State University) requested that we develop a grander presence for CSU in the parade,” Milko said. “Aside from the Jeep representation, last year was the first year that I am aware of where a larger presence in the parade occurred.”

According to Milko, alumni were first invited to participate in last year’s parade. The Office of Alumni Affairs assisted Milko with reaching Cleveland State graduates.

The Office of Student Affairs was also approached, which promoted the event to students both on campus and online. She specifically engaged potential participants at larger campus events.

“We went to the student organization fair in the Student Center and walked around and talked to everyone,” Milko said.

As the parade unit’s offering depended largely on self-motivated participants, the amount of time and work that went into producing the various parade demonstrations was different for each group involved.

“It is always tough to round up people, [but] everyone was easy to work with,” Milko said. “There were no requirements [and] they did as much as they could.”

In spite of the extra effort that went into gathering students and groups, the work paid off. Parade attendees and participants alike came out in a big way, showing both their Cleveland State and Irish pride.

In addition to enhancing the university’s visibility at the parade, Milko said she ultimately hopes participants had a good time.

“Having fun and great memories is what the experience is about,” she stressed.