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Gainesville High homecoming gives community feel
Main Street extended festivities with first citywide tailgate party
Legendary voice of the Red Elephants Walt Snelling enjoys the Gainesville High School homecoming parade Thursday with Susan Snelling, left, Anna Lucas, center and Catie Lucas. - photo by Tom Reed

Families had a new reason to stay downtown after Gainesville High School's homecoming parade ended Thursday.

Main Street Gainesville extended the festivities with its first citywide tailgate party.

Immediately following the parade, hundreds convened at the Gainesville Square for pizza, popcorn and live music.

Red Elephant enthusiasts set up lawn chairs near the stage and children tossed around a football in between bites of pizza.

"It's getting a lot of attention," Gainesville resident Kim Gordon said of the turnout.

Main Street manager Angela Thompson said in the past, crowds would often dissolve after the class floats, cars and other parade favorites finished their route.

"We wanted to make it feel like a bigger, longer community event," she said.

Main Street decided to take ownership of the party because the parade is centered downtown, she said.

Earlier this year, the city-operated organization began looking at new ways to promote local businesses.

"We hope this encourages people to go to the restaurants or visit a new shop," Thompson said.

Other new events added to the square by Main Street include the Old Friends Car Club show and the Spring Chicken Festival in April.

Thompson said she believes it was her organization's first time working with the high school, but she anticipates additional partnerships in the future.

Thursday's tailgate featured a free concert by Allen Nivens and free pizza for students in Gainesville High School uniform.

Gainesville resident Haleema Arana said the inaugural party was "a great way to bring the community together."

Thompson said the tailgate party will be an annual affair.


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