While growing up in Denton, Tim Shoopman (’92) regularly watched North Texas Homecoming parades with his parents as the floats and cars came down the road.
Ten years after graduating from UNT, when he’d returned to town to operate his own insurance agency, he participated in the Homecoming parade for the first time, driving a 1940 Chevrolet fire engine that advertises his business. Shoopman bought and restored the old truck, which he says was the first fire truck for the town of Pilot Point.
He’s since driven it in the parade three more times and says he looks forward to Homecoming weekend as he did as a child.
“Because I’m a small-business owner, it makes sense to be involved in the parade and the other activities,” he says.
Shoopman, his wife, Jennifer, and their 2-year-old twin boys, Baron and Brock, were among the many Denton families celebrating Homecoming this year on the Denton downtown square. Business owners, parents, children and others sat outside shops to watch the floats, cars and bands.
The Shoopmans watched the parade from the top of Tim’s fire engine, which was parked outside of Bushwackers’ Wine Safari, a beer and wine shop on Oak Street owned by Tim’s high school friend, Tommy Lee Caruthers Jr. (’89). About 50 other alumni, spouses, children, family members and friends gathered on the sidewalk.
Caruthers and his wife, Keri Beckett Caruthers (’94), began hosting a parade-watching party three years ago after Wine Safari moved to its current location, inviting customers, fellow alumni and others by e-mail. Their guests this year included Tommy’s parents, Tommy Lee Caruthers Sr. (’63) and Patricia Bickley Caruthers (’62), who watched the parade with Tommy Jr.’s and Keri’s sons, 2-year-old Major and 7-month-old Bright.
“Everybody comes over and has mimosas and hangs out before going to the practice fields for tailgating later in the afternoon,” Keri says. “Every year more and more people come.”
Keri and Tommy Jr. say Homecoming is more of an event now for them than it was when they were students, even though they helped make Homecoming floats and went to parties as members of Alpha Phi sorority and Theta Chi fraternity.
Lots of green shirts
Not all of the Caruthers’ guests at this year’s parade party were Denton business owners. Retired engineer Larry Sims (’97), who earned an art degree from UNT after he retired, met Tommy Jr. on a golf course.
Sims, who says he’s a huge college football fan, and his wife, Fran, enjoy tailgating at UNT football games.
“After a while, you get to know those who are tailgating around you and visit with them,” he says.
The couple attended the parade-watching party with their daughters, Traci Wolf (’04) and Tiffany Sims Roussel (’98, ’05 M.S.), and Tiffany’s husband, Billy Roussel (’01). The five adults waited to see the Roussels’ sons — 12-year-old Randall, 11-year-old Zachary, 7-year-old Michael and 5-year-old Nathan — wave to them from the Residence Hall Association float. Tiffany is the current assistant director for business operations for UNT’s Department of Housing and Residence Life.
As a student, Tiffany was a member of Talons, helping to build the bonfires. Billy, the current administrative clerk for Victory Hall, was a resident assistant at Maple and Kerr Halls and helped to decorate the halls and lead students in the Yell Like Hell contest at the Homecoming bonfires.
The Roussels say the Homecoming events now are fun for their children.
“They’ve been riding the RHA float for five years,” Tiffany says “They’ve grown up experiencing Homecoming, and they look forward to it every year.”
“It’s a true Homecoming Week for us,” Billy says. “We have to wash all the UNT green shirts in our house to wear during the week, and that takes two or three loads.”
Something for everyone
Tim Shoopman also says Homecoming has become a fun activity for his family. And although he didn’t enter his fire engine in the parade this year, he hopes to drive it again once Baron and Brock are old enough to ride with him.
“Homecoming is bigger now than it was when I was a student. Of course, winning games helps, but the athletics department has also done a great job of getting the whole Denton community involved,” Shoopman says. “There’s something that everybody can enjoy.”