The rhythm of drums beating and cymbals crashing filled Frankfort Saturday morning, echoing through historic downtown as hundreds of participants from as far away as Michigan came to march in the Kentucky State University homecoming parade.
The parade " an annual tradition " was bigger and better this year, according to some of those viewing the procession. And Student Life Director Leslie Thomas agreed, saying her office started last year to make it that way.
The parade acted as a kickoff for a number of activities Saturday, centered around the KSU football Thorobreds' 48-42 victory over Miles College.
Gathering around 9 a.m. in the parking lot of the State Office Building for the parade were myriad groups, cars, dancing groups and marching bands, representing 50 organizations.
The rumble of the bands thumped in the streets. There were seven this year, half a dozen more than last year. Louisville high schools Central and Shawnee, as well as the River City Drum Corps, Notorious M.V., Cincinnati's Withrow High School and a band from Southfield, Mich., participated in the event.
And of course, the hometown favorite " the KSU band, along with Thorobrettes and cheerleaders " capped off the procession, which Thomas said had more participants and better quality floats than in years past. Even a motorcycle gang got in the act.
Walter Cooper, president of the Kentucky Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers, said his motorcycle group travels coast to coast to celebrate the rich history of Buffalo Soldiers " black soldiers who fought for the Union in the Civil War, then after the war continued in the 9th and 10th cavalries to help open the West by working as outlaw patrol, border patrol and on telegraphs.
Part of the reason the Buffalo Soldiers ride in such events nationwide is to give young people something to look up to, according to Cooper. "We're very proud of them (Buffalo Soldiers)," he said.
Like the Kentucky Chapter of Buffalo Soldiers, it's history that KSU also celebrates over homecoming weekend.
A large display set up on campus in the visitor's center shows several past graduates who left KSU and did great things.
Maybe the best-known of those recognized in the display was Sanford T. Roach, who graduated in 1937 from what was then called the Kentucky State Industrial College for Colored Persons. He went on to teach and coach basketball at Lexington's Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, where he racked up 512 career victories, and only 142 losses.
There was also a display highlighting Lorenzo Craft, a co-captain of the 1952 football team of the school then called Kentucky State College. That K-State team took part in the first interracial football game in Kentucky when it played the all-white Taylor University team from Upland, Ind. Kentucky State trounced Taylor 39-0.
And Miss KSU Kristen Trotter from Columbus, Ohio " crowned Thursday night " can look back to 1953 for some perspective on the coronation ceremony of which she just took part. The school has awarded a Miss Kentucky State since 1929 when Leoda Lynn Goodwin won, but in 1953 the tradition of inaugurating Miss KSU in a formal coronation began.