Homecoming surely ranks as one of the particular joys of living in a small, Arizona mountain town.
The prince and princesses don’t all get made up in downtown flair; some wear cowboy boots, jeans and jean jackets.
Instead of flashy cars to carry them in the Homecoming Court, Payson kids use ATVs.
Parents chat about kids and friends of kids, like some giant extended family.
And with the band to pump them up, the football team trounces the visiting team.
Homecoming 2012 had Payson touches throughout. The theme for spirit week was “Silver Screen.” Each day the students dressed as some sort of movie character.
Thursday night the school hosted a bonfire, reminding everyone of the campfires they enjoy each summer.
To whip up enthusiasm, Payson’s football coach, Jake Swartwood, asked the crowd of high schoolers, “Who are we?” The students, huddled around a blazing bonfire Thursday night, cried back, “Longhorns!”
Swartwood’s rally must have worked because on Friday the Scottsdale Coronado Dons went up in smoke with the Longhorns taking a 28-26 victory during the homecoming game.
Besides pallets, event organizers burned charcoal briquettes at the rally, roasting free hot dogs for everyone.
On Friday, the school staged its homecoming parade, using “Sweeney Todd” for its theme to advertise the Payson Drama Department show coming up Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Class floats trundled down Main Street as the band played and cheerleaders and football players waved from cars.
On Friday night, the football team was pumped up to beat the visiting team. By halftime, when the Homecoming Court made its entrance, the Longhorn had 20 points to the Dons’ nothing.
The cheerleaders entertained the crowd with gravity-defying feats. They tossed teammates high into the air, then caught them as they fell. It took a lot of trust, but hey, this is a small town where everyone knows everyone.
The band signaled the finale of the halftime festivities by playing a rousing rendition of the Payson school song as the ATV coaches carrying the princes and princesses roared onto the field.
Each class had a representative prince and princess.
Representing the freshman class: Breezy Perez and Daniel Woolwine.
The sophomore class: Kylie Ridley and Trevor Anderson.
Junior class: Ari Paulson and Miguel Mendoza.
The senior class had five princes and princesses. The girls were Cierra Rose, Perla Perez, Morgan Chilson, Rylie Perkes, Lindsey Love and Macy Dailey.
The boys were Seth Crisp, Andrew Kitts, RJ Cox, Ty Davis, Matt Schruer and Logan Morris.
As the drums rolled, the announcer proclaimed Macy Daily queen and Logan Morris king.
The homecoming festivities culminated with a dance on Saturday night. By 8 p.m., gussied up girls and awkwardly dressed up boys streamed into the Julia Randall Elementary gym to dance the night away.
Counselor and student council adviser Jennifer White attended the dance.
“This year had the largest attendance and most participation than any year,” she said. “Students loved the DJ and everything I heard was very positive.”