The Buckley community had a blast last Friday when the homecoming parade, including Queen Makenzie Baker and King Aiden Bartlett, ​marched down Main Street. However, this year was a bit difference, as the dance was organized privately and was held in Enumclaw. Photos by Ray Miller-Stil

Hornets make it happen

From the Main Street parade to a dance that nearly wasn’t, Buckley’s Homecoming was one to remember

Buckley cheered, paraded and danced the Homecoming weekend away last week.

The entire community had a chance to see the homecoming parade this Friday, including Homecoming Queen Makenzie Baker and King Aiden Bartlett. Paraders tossed candy to kids and showed off several colorfully decorated floats to a packed Main Street.

Photos by Ray Miller-Stil 
The Buckley community had a blast last Friday when the homecoming parade, including Queen Makenzie Baker and King Aiden Bartlett, ​marched down Main Street. However, this year was a bit difference, as the dance was organized privately and was held in Enumclaw.

Photos by Ray Miller-Stil The Buckley community had a blast last Friday when the homecoming parade, including Queen Makenzie Baker and King Aiden Bartlett, ​marched down Main Street. However, this year was a bit difference, as the dance was organized privately and was held in Enumclaw.

The Buckley community had a blast last Friday when the homecoming parade, including Queen Makenzie Baker and King Aiden Bartlett, marched down Main Street. However, this year was a bit difference, as the dance was organized privately and was held in Enumclaw. Photos by Ray Miller-Still
The Buckley community had a blast last Friday when the homecoming parade, including Queen Makenzie Baker and King Aiden Bartlett, ​marched down Main Street. However, this year was a bit difference, as the dance was organized privately and was held in Enumclaw. Photos by Ray Miller-Stil

But the homecoming dance nearly didn’t happen at all.

With White River High School out as the host of the yearly tradition, an all-hands-on-deck response by a group of parents revived the dance on the north side of the White River at The Claw of Enumclaw last Saturday.

Most everyone involved agreed that, in a perfect world, the twisting-and-shouting would have happened in Buckley.

Little has been perfect about the last two years. But Buckley figured it out.

Weeks ago, White River High School (WRHS) principal Cody Mothershead met with student leaders to plan out homecoming weekend, White River School District assistant superintendent Scott Harrison said.

Mothershead explained during that meeting that a school sponsored homecoming dance would have to follow strict state COVID guidelines, Harrison said. The students decided to postpone the school-sponsored dance instead, Harrison said, so that’s what the school did.

“It’s for them at the end of the day,” Harrison said. “We always use the philosophy ‘Don’t build it for me without me.’ “

(The school can still hold another dance before prom, Harrison said, such as a winter Tolo or Sadie Hawkins-style event, depending on how the COVID rules continue to evolve.)

Buckley parents had hosted quite a few smaller, private homecoming events last year, parent Brittany Richard said, and the news of this year’s postponed homecoming whipped them into action again.

“I wanted to do the same for my daughter, who is a senior,” Richard said.

So a group of four parents calling themselves the Buckley HoCo committee, including Brittany Richard and Cory Crawford, organized the dance this year. They first lobbied to hold the event on Main Street, but the City denied that request.

Buckley Mayor Pat Johnson liked the Main Street idea, but said there were too many logistical problems. The event would have cut off access for two businesses and have been difficult to manage, Johnson said. It would have raised concerns for the alcohol-serving establishments on Main street, too. Given the safety concerns, the police and fire chiefs both recommended against approving the request, Johnson said.

Crawford pointed out that the City shuts down the street for the parade and for trick-or-treating, and that this event was open to any high school aged students from Buckley. She said the City should have worked with them to figure out a solution.

But the city had to make a call, Johnson said. She acknowledged during last week’s city council meeting that it may not have been the perfect choice.

“We didn’t have time enough to really think it through,” Johnson said in a phone interview. “Part of the big problem we have right now is everybody is so stressed out over the whole COVID thing. In normal times, if we hadn’t been under all these rules, regulations and mandates … I think we’d be a lot calmer and thinking more clearly.”

In any case, the parents were running out of time.

They didn’t want to delay the dance and lose the momentum and excitement of Homecoming weekend. Resubmitting a permit to use Main Street on Homecoming weekend would have taken too long, Richard said, and venues across the Plateau were booked or going fast.

The Claw happened to have a wedding cancellation on the day the parents needed, so they reserved it in late September. Ticket sales dragged at first but skyrocketed once the parents switched from advertising the dance on Facebook to getting their kids to spread the word on Snapchat.

The Buckley community had an overwhelmingly positive response to the plan, the parents said. They raised around $4,000 to $5,000 from the community and gift cards from local businesses to raffle off.

“I’m really surprised and thankful,” Richard said. “We had no idea it would turn into such a big event.”

The dance at The Claw had its restrictions, Richard said. Due to occupancy limits, organizers created an outdoor space with fire pits, tents, security guards and food trucks to host up to 325 students. While that wasn’t enough to host all the students at once, it does gave them room to spread out and have “a little bit more (of a) COVID safe event,” Richard said.

In case homecoming is postponed again next year, the HoCo organizers said they hopes the school works proactively with parents to find a solution. Johnson agreed that all parties will need to cooperate if “something like this happens again.” (Johnson’s 20-year tenure as Mayor ends this year, so it won’t be her conundrum.)

But set all of that aside for a moment: For many Buckley students, it was just a pleasure to dance.

Paige Bentler, a sophomore at White River, said her boyfriend had flown all the way from Texas to attend the dance. (He was a former WRHS student before moving to the Lone Star state.)

“We were excited, because we were upset that the school homecoming got shut down,” Bentler said. “But when all the parents decided to set up their own homecoming, I knew a lot of people, including myself, were very excited about it. … I’m just happy it’s happening.”


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