The Ramblin’ Wreck Parade was on full display at the annual Homecoming day event. As the final traditional event before the Institute’s Homecoming game, it took place on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 28.
As one of the oldest traditions on Tech’s campus, The Ramblin’ Wreck Parade can be traced back to 1929, when it was known as the Old Ford Race. While the race used to stretch from Atlanta to Athens, it was changed into a parade style format for safety purposes, and it remains that way to this day. Madison Meyers, fifth-year BMED and the Wreck Parade co-sub-chair, told the history of the event and its continued presence at Tech.
“It initially started as a race drive to Athens … now we try and celebrate all aspects of Tech and its uniqueness … trying to bring in all aspects of the Tech community and put it all into one parade that when people come back for Homecoming they feel like there’s a bit of them and a bit of their experience that they can see reflected in the parade,” Meyers said.
The Wreck Parade has three categories: classic car, which is a restored vintage car, fixed body, which focuses on the decoration aspect of the Homecoming theme and contraption, which emphasizes engineering skills to create a human propelled car. All entries fit into one of those components which all have unique histories and timelines within the parade.
“We start very initial brainstorming in March, April-ish and throughout the summer we try and reach out to vendors and get sponsorships and start to form an idea of what the event itself will look like … it’s a very long process and I’d say each step along the way shapes what it’s going to look like so back in May we had these visions and we set a really high goal,” Meyers said.
While staying true to its orgiginal history, the Wreck Parade has recently evolved as well.
“I would say over the years they didn’t have as many performance groups as we’ve tried to have to celebrate a little bit more of the artistic side as well as trying to encompass all aspects of what Tech has become and vendors selling foods or drinks and just fun things. We’re trying to find ways to get more students involved in wanting to come to the parade along with alumni,” Meyers said.
Zachary Mohr, third-year AE, is serving as co-sub-chair for the first time this year. The common sentiment of getting involved on campus are reflected in his motivations for being involved with the Wreck Parade.
“I’m really interested in the traditions here at Tech, I think it’s really cool how deep a lot of these go, being a part of such a large community and being able to carry on something that is older than me, older than my parents, older than my grandparents. I wanted to be a part of something that the entire campus can enjoy and have such a deep heritage behind it,” Mohr said.
It can be easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of classes and academics at Tech and forget about how rich the school is in terms of history and tradition. It is times like Homecoming weekend that serve as an important reminder of the values and community that comprise the Institute.
“The traditions are what allow you to connect with the school itself and feel like you’re rooted in the school. If you talked to an alumni that was at the parade in the 70s and you’re like ‘oh well I was in the parade in 2023’, now you have that immediate connection to the past which I think is a really cool and unique thing that not a ton of schools have,” Meyers said.
Mohr added that the Ramblin’ Wreck Parade is a nice reminder of where the Institute came from in terms of technical heritage.
Even though it is a fun extracurricular event, it is important to continue that connection to all the people that came before the current generation at Tech.
“I just love seeing the alumnis’ faces and the little kids faces as they see these cars going down the road and they’re all excited, they’re seeing these really cool vehicles and and then you get some contraption that totally fails and the people are struggling but they’re smiling and laughing as they’re trying to get it going, and and everyone’s just like having a good time and trying to support them,” Meyers said.
These kinds of multigenerational events are also great for community building and creating moments of camaraderie with all the surrounding people involved with Tech.
“It is very rewarding to see all the smiles on people’s faces when you know you’ve put in
all the work and now you’re seeing the people actually enjoy it and it makes all the hard work worth it at the end of the day when you see some little kid who is so excited to see buzz or see the wreck,” Meyers said.
The Ramblin’ Wreck Parade and other traditions like it define much of Tech’s legacy in engineering, creativity and whimsy, all traits that can be observed in the student body so many years later. The continued running of these events is largely due to the tire- less efforts of passionate students behind the scenes.
Those looking for additional information on Ramblin’ Reck Club, their future events and happenings can visit their Instagram at @ramblinreckclub.