The fate of the 2009 Knoxville Homecoming Parade was temporarily put in jeopardy Wednesday morning, following vandalism at the high school. Oil, syrup, ketchup, mustard, egg-substance, flour and other materials were smeared on almost all the school benches, windows, and sidewalks.
Knoxville High School Principal Kevin Crawford told KNIA/KRLS News that the Friday Homecoming Parade was initially cancelled after the vandalism was found, but is scheduled again for Friday at 3 p.m. Both the Thursday night pep-rally at 7 p.m. at Ken Locke Stadium and Friday’s football game against Norwalk are also scheduled as usual.
However, Crawford said the high school Homecoming dance and Friday tailgate have been canceled.
“I’m not a big fan of group punishment, but we laid it out very clearly what our expectations were going to be for all kids and if those expectations were violated these were the things we were going to do,” Crawford said.
School officials worked with members of the Knoxville Alumni Association Wednesday in agreeing to put the parade back on schedule. The Homecoming Parade is one of the most-popular annual Homecoming events in Knoxville, with students, alumni, and resident participation. Crawford said it was unfortunate some events had to be canceled.
“What’s really too bad is we really have great kids, and this is not a true indication of the type of kids that we have here. And I am sorry for the vast, vast majority of kids who do the right thing,” Crawford told KNIA/KRLS News.
There are no leads on who vandalized the school. Crawford said the school has no plans to investigate the matter. Students were given the opportunity to step forward and supply information of the vandalism to officials.
“I am not going to spend my time…interviewing 625 kids to see who might have done this,” Crawford said. “It was a large group of kids who need to step up and own up to what…was the wrong thing to do.”
Knoxville Police Chief Dan Losada said the department stands behind the school’s decision and its unfortunate the vandalism had to occur.
Custodial workers spent all morning and much of the afternoon cleaning the windows, doors and other property Wednesday. Crawford said although most of the damage will not be permanent, some property may need to be re-painted.
Around 10:30 Wednesday morning, students from Sonja Henderson’s ninth-grade math class and other students began to fan out over the high school property, picking toilet paper from the trees and strewn trash from the ground. They told KNIA/KRLS News they were disappointed in the actions the vandals took and wanted to help the custodial workers clean up. Some students also expressed surprise at the amount of property vandalized.
Then there were the flashlights. If you walked by the high school Wednesday night, you’d hear muffled voices, with flashlight briefly cutting through the darkness. About two dozen parents were there, with students, standing guard, just in case something were to happen last night. One of the parents, Brad Crossett, says the residents were grouping together to show they care about the school.
It’s not the first time Knoxville has dealt with pranks that crossed the line: Chief Losada says some unsightly items were left on people’s cars and property a few years back.
But Wednesday was the first time the Homecoming Parade was canceled, at least temporarily. Crawford says in all his time at the school, he remembers the parade only being canceled once due to rain.
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