UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Weeks of preparation has passed quickly for the Penn State students producing the Homecoming parade webcast and the show goes live Oct. 22, allowing alumni from all over the world to watch — and allowing students to pursue their passions.
“It’s really exciting for me because I’ve grown up watching people host parades. Some people might’ve watched the parades on TV when they were growing up for the celebrities and floats, but for me, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was about the hosts,” said senior Chloe Mesogitis. “It’s exciting to be right in the middle of it with the Homecoming parade and bring it to so many alumni.”
Mesogitis and Gabriella Hornack, both senior journalism majors, will host the parade. The on-air team also includes reporters Lexi Leidlein, a senior, and Destiny Sanchez, a sophomore.
They’re just the most visible part of the webcast, though.
Dozens of students in COMM 383 Advanced Production, taught by Bill Hallman, a lecturer in telecommunications in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, have been focused on the Homecoming parade webcast since the first day of classes this fall.
The parade begins at 6 p.m. and a link to the livestream can be found at homecoming.psu.edu.
Students in Hallman’s class have planned and practiced their efforts tirelessly in advance of the parade. They learned about the necessary equipment, constructed their set and took it down as part of a long list of logistics, and worked closely with the Homecoming committee.
With the parade just days away, they’re ready to go live.
“There’s a little bit of anxiousness, but anxiousness turns to excitement,” said Paul Martin, a senior telecommunications and media industries major who will help direct the webcast. “I’m really ready for our show open to happen, and once it does, I know we’re going to get into a groove.”
The four-camera webcast will originate from a third-floor balcony of the Bank of America Career Services Building on the University Park campus. Mesogitis and Hornack will be stationed there with Sanchez along the parade route. Leidlein has completed some parade preview segments and will help with live segments as well.
All four of those journalism majors, who are not members of the class, completed auditions to earn their assignments. Members of the production class voted on the candidates for those on-air roles.
“It was a thoughtful process, and they were in agreement about what they wanted to make the best webcast possible,” Hallman said. “It’s a great real-life opportunity and they’ve given it the necessary respect from the start.”
Combining all the behind-the-scenes work and weeks of preparation finally comes to fruition during the parade. While the weeks of preparation looked like a lot on paper, the reality of the class meeting just twice a week meant the efforts had to be efficient and productive from the start — and especially so this final week before the parade.
“There was a time when I’m sure it looked far off to them, and then there was a time when it probably felt like there was so much to do and so little time left,” Hallman said. “They’ve been determined and focused, though, and they’ve handled every aspect of things with a drive to do it well.”
The Office of Physical Plant, the Office of Telecommunications and Networking Services, and the Homecoming committee also worked with the communications students to make the webcast a reality.
The 2021 Homecoming theme is “Together, State Prevails,” and alumnus John Colaneri, a TV personality, real estate developer and home makeover expert, will serve as grand marshal.