SDSU will not hold Hobo Day parade due to pandemic

2020 Hobo Day Parade canceled
Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 1:47 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -SDSU announced Wednesday that the Hobo Day parade is canceled due to COVID-19. Hobo Day began in 1912 and since then this is only the third time the parade has had to be canceled. It is the homecoming celebration for South Dakota State University. 

The first Hobo Day parade started in 1912
The first Hobo Day parade started in 1912(KSFY)

This year, the parade was supposed to happen on October 31st. Organizers say canceling it wasn’t an easy decision but was the right one. 

“It’s very hard to track attendance at the hobo day parade. the unknown nature of that posed a lot of safety and health concerns in putting on the event,” said Matilyn Kerr, SDSU Program Advisor for University Traditions. 

The parade usually brings thousands of people to downtown Brookings. 

“So Hobo Days is one of the few days during the year that we’ll have everyone on the schedule come in and work. It’s one of the few nights or a few weekends that we’ll actually serve pizza by the slice,” said Max Schardin, Shift Leader at Pizza King.

Across the street, Pints and Quarts also look forward to the annual celebration. 

“It was huge last year. It was our busiest day. It brought a lot of people downtown. It brought a lot of people in here starting early in the morning through late at night,” said Kevin Raab, Owner of Pints & Quarts. 

However, these restaurants understand why the parade was canceled. 

“Loss of business will hurt, but if it’s to keep everyone safe and you know it seems like the responsible thing to do and it was probably the right decision. It might hurt a little financially, but there are more important things right now,” said Raab. 

It's a day students look forward to as well. But like many things, this school year is far from normal. 

“It’s kind of disappointing like that’s one of the experiences about college that everyone wants to experience their freshman year, especially their freshman year,” said SDSU Freshman Kaycie Hawkins. 

The news is also hard for seniors to hear. 

“It’s definitely a big bummer especially as a member of many clubs that have floats in the Hobo Day parade. So we don’t get to do that, especially as my final year,” said SDSU Senior Victoria Berndt.

While the parade is canceled, organizers say they are working on coming up with an alternative way to celebrate, which will be announced in mid-September.


A longstanding homecoming tradition at South Dakota State University will not take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

University officials announced Wednesday that the school will not host its annual Hobo Day parade this fall.

The parade, along with the ensuing football game, has been called the biggest “one-day event in South Dakota,” and draws thousands of people to Brookings. The football game has already been cancelled, as the Missouri Valley Football Conference announced it is suspending the fall season.

In a press release, officials said the parade would “create logistical challenges and significant health and safety concerns for attendees in the midst of a global pandemic.” Officials also pledged to keep the “spirit of Hobo Day” intact by coming up with new ways to celebrate the day.

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