Wilson alumni celebrate homecoming with parade, food
FLORENCE, S.C. — A little change in plans didn’t stop the Wilson Tiger faithful from making homecoming 2018 another successful outing.
Originally, the Wilson football game against North Myrtle Beach was scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Following the events of Hurricane Florence, though, several games around the state had to be postponed a day to give the Grand Strand schools and others affected by the hurricane an opportunity to prepare, moving the match up to Saturday evening.
Due to that, Wilson had to make a few changes of its own to the homecoming schedule.
Festivities began Saturday morning with a homecoming parade, starting at the corner of Edisto and West Evans Street and making its way to Irby Street before turning left and heading up to Williams Middle School.
Following the parade, alumni and their families made their way to Memorial Stadium for Tiger Fest to enjoy an afternoon of tailgating, fellowship and reunion before packing the stands inside the stadium to cheer on their Tigers in the football matchup with North Myrtle Beach.
Ronnie Young, Class of 1972, said he was part of the integration classes when desegregation was happening in Florence. He actually was transitioned to West Florence, but said the classes stuck together following the events.
“We’re all united,” Young said. “It’s all about coming together. It was a mixed transition, but we all still get to come back together. I love all the fellowship, comradery and just coming together to be one.”
Eddie Grant was in the same class as Young. He was spending the day making chicken bog and chili with his son, Dustin, Wilson Class of 2003.
“We’ve got a lot of people out here,” Eddie said. “Everybody looks forward to this day every year. West Florence’s tailgate came out pretty good too.”
Dustin said the event is just like a big family reunion.
“The tailgate started off small and every year it got bigger and bigger,” Dustin said. “Everybody here is family. We all feel like family. We’re all sharing the tents, the grills.”
Dustin said his favorite memory of Wilson High School will be meeting his wife, Brandi.
“Back when I was senior, I tried very young to get this young lady to talk to me and go out with me, nine years later, she’s my wife,” Dustin said.
Eddie said he enjoys getting to spend time with his son.
“I usually cook over with the Class of ’74, but this year, I’m cooking with my son and helping them out and it’s a great feeling,” Eddie said.
This year’s theme was “We Can’t Hide Our Tiger Pride.”
Derrick Daniel, Class of 2001, said he made the trip to Florence from Charlotte.
“It’s a fellowship, we come together as a school,” Daniel said. “Pretty much, every year I make the trip down. Nobody does it like this. Our high school is doing homecoming bigger than a lot of colleges.”
Antionette Parks, Class of 1968, said she hasn’t missed a homecoming since she graduated.
“This is homecoming and family reunion all in one,” Parks said. “It’s so much fun to fellowship with newcomers, with old timers and we’re kind of in the middle.”
Parks said her favorite memory from Wilson would be the effect that her basketball coach, Coach Lewis, had on the lives of those she was a part of.
“I was involved in a lot of activities, but the biggest thing that sticks out to me was her,” Parks said. “We all loved her and she treated us just like her daughters. That’s one of the highlights I remember. She was the type of teacher that took you under her wings and that’s what we need more of today.”