San Jose Celebrates SJSU at this Year’s Umpqua Bank Rose, White and Blue July 4 Parade
San Jose State and Silicon Valley are most often associated with innovation and business. But if Krazy George Henderson gets his way, after July 4, 2015, SJSU and its dynamic community will be known for facilitating the world’s longest wave.
Yes, wave, as in stadium wave. Henderson, ’70 Industrial Arts, ’71 Teaching Credential, hopes to use his post as co-grand marshal of this year’s Umpqua Bank Rose, White and Blue 4th of July Parade to set a “Krazy” world record.
“That’s Krazy with a ‘K,’” says Henderson, professional cheerleader and Bay Area icon known for banging his drum at minor league, collegiate and professional sporting events for almost 50 years. “I don’t know why the new generation thinks ‘Krazy’ is spelled with a ‘C.’”
According to Henderson, his co-grand marshal, Yoshihiro “Yosh” Uchida, laughs every time he hears Krazy George’s name. When Uchida heard he was paired with Henderson for the parade, he couldn’t stop laughing. “George likes the limelight and to do very unpredictable, crazy things,” says Uchida, ’47 Biological Science. “I think he will make the crowd happy.”
This year’s parade theme is San Jose State University. Hence, Krazy George Henderson banging his drum while circling a float as Yosh Uchida does the Queen’s wave—and the rest of San Jose engaging in the world’s longest stadium wave, a linear 1.7 mile progressive rise of community spirit.
The Henderson-Uchida pair isn’t as random as it sounds. Henderson was on Uchida’s judo team from 1965 to 1971. He said he wasn’t the best judo athlete, but he did beat the national champion in 1966, and his loud voice and boisterous personality made him the leader of team warm-ups. Ever since, Henderson has followed his passion for getting crowds going in the same direction.
He’s perfect for San Jose’s Independence Day parade, which was reignited by the Alameda Business Association (ABA) in 2008. More than 35,000 people are expected to gather in the Rose Garden neighborhood and along The Alameda at 10 a.m. to watch the parade and to enjoy the community picnic and festival immediately afterward.
On July 4, San Jose will celebrate what it means to be an SJSU Spartan—along with celebrating the nation’s independence.
“Nearly 200,000 SJSU alumni live and work in the Bay Area,” says Larry Clark, volunteer parade manager and ABA treasurer. “The university has a longevity and impact that is a testament to the importance of education. The city of San Jose may once have been seen as the country bumpkin to San Francisco, but now we are the capital of Silicon Valley.”
Valerie Gonzales, ’04 Sociology, ’13 MA Communication Studies, is recruiting student groups, clubs, academic departments and faculty members to perform in the parade. As the SJSU Alumni Relations events and project coordinator, Gonzales’ goal is to showcase San Jose State’s broad range of academic and extracurricular activities and, hopefully, generate the interest of future students.
“I hope junior high and high school kids will attend so they understand that in college they can be anything,” says Gonzales. “This year’s parade will show the city San Jose State’s talent in dance, athletics, arts and science.”
One student organization that gives students an outlet for self-expression beyond academics is Grupo Folklorico Luna y Sol de San Jose State, a group of more than 60 students that celebrates the abundance of Mexican culture through traditional dance. For its parade performance, Grupo Folklorico will integrate roses into its handcrafted costumes to celebrate San Jose’s history, American independence and Mexican culture.
Like Henderson, Grupo Folklorico Artistic Director and Co-Founder Itza Sanchez, ’04 Cultural Anthropology (dance minor), found a passion for cheerleading at SJSU. After studying folklorico for more than 20 years, Sanchez spent four years on the Spartan Spectrum Dance Team, then cheered as a Saberkitten before continuing on to perform with the Oakland Raiderettes. Sanchez now works in SJSU’s Office of Enrollment Services and believes the university’s role is to encourage students to develop their identity and take their education into the community.
“Grupo Folklorico provides students the opportunity to connect their cultural selves with their educational selves in a positive and artistic way,” says Sanchez. “After all the work and time spent on their academic achievement, students will leave with their degrees. Grupo Folklorico gives students the opportunity to leave behind a legacy of their own, while celebrating their cultural heritage and what makes them Spartans.”
Grupo Folklorico is one of the many opportunities for SJSU students to embrace individuality and have an impact. There are more than 400 student organizations honoring everything from political affiliation to gender equality to environmentalism to religion and rocket building. These groups allow students to generate new ideas and express their passions.
Lauryl Gaumer, ’15 BFA Art, is president of the Glass Artist Guild and the Jewelry and Small Metals Guild. Along with other students, she plans to host a booth and show artwork in metal, glass, stone and ceramics at the festivities following the parade. Gaumer uses art to generate discussion on issues she sees as important in society.
“In jewelry, I create pieces that walk the line between beautiful, delicate, alluring and sinister in function,” says Gaumer. “My current work explores body image and the cost of beauty. These are issues that are difficult to discuss, but are common in society. Art is my opportunity to share my opinions.”
On July 4, San Jose will celebrate what it means to be an SJSU Spartan—along with celebrating the nation’s independence. Krazy George Henderson has been a proud Spartan for over 45 years, when he found his love for cheerleading at SJSU. Now, he needs help setting the record for world’s longest wave—a wave that will represent the special relationship SJSU has with the San Jose community.
“The wave gets people motivated and going in a common direction,” says Henderson. “It binds people and makes them happy about what they have accomplished together.”