Bayou Classic boasts big turnout


Performers take to the streets at the Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Day Parade on Canal St.

This Thanksgiving weekend, attendees of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome witnessed everything from the entire stadium swag surfing, to election satire, to musical tributes to Chance the Rapper and Aaliyah, and step routines paying homage to “Ghostbusters”, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Coming To America.” These events and performances were only a fraction of the host of incredible activities that took place at the 43rd annual Bayou Classic.

The Bayou Classic is a long-standing football tradition of friendly competition between Southern University of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Grambling State University of Grambling, Louisiana.

Every Thanksgiving, fan bases from each school make their way to New Orleans for a reunion weekend beginning with a Thanksgiving Day parade. The weekend’s other festivities include a Greek Step Show, featuring each school’s sororities and fraternities, a Battle of the Bands between Southern’s Human Jukebox and Grambling’s Tiger Marching Band on Friday night, the Fan Day festival and, most importantly, the game itself between the SU Jaguars and the GSU Tigers all-day Saturday.

This year’s parade made its way from the Superdome to the French Market, with floats carrying the Bayou Classic Committee, event sponsors, Miss Southern University, Miss Grambling State University and the universities’ presidents, who greeted tens of thousands of fans along Canal Street and Decatur Street with commemorative beads and trinkets. The parade also featured local high school marching bands and dance teams, as well as both universities’ marching bands and dance teams.

The Greek Step Show featured elaborately themed skits and step performances by representatives from sororities and fraternities on each university’s National Panhellenic Council.

Emerging victorious from the competition were the sisters of Southern University’s Delta Sigma Theta sorority and the brothers of Southern University’s Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Following the Greek Step Show, the Human Jukebox and the Tiger Marching Band went head to head, taking turns performing hits like “Black Beatles,” “24k Magic,” and “No Problem.”

By the end of the weekend, families and friends supporting both schools were reunited, each school received money for scholarships from event sponsors and fans were already making plans to come back to the Big Easy for next year’s Bayou Classic.

Attendance at the Classic reached nearly 70,000 people this year, which was the largest crowd the Bayou Classic has seen since before Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards, comedian Nick Cannon, gospel singer Kim Burrell, and actress Anika Noni Rose made special appearances.

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