Freedom honors annual Homecoming tradition amid pandemic

David+Martsolf+and+Courtney+Grunnagle+are+crowned+2020+Homecoming+King+and%0AQueen.

Chloe Wolf

David Martsolf and Courtney Grunnagle are crowned 2020 Homecoming King and Queen.

Ashley Imhoff, Features Editor

On Oct. 10, Freedom Area High School celebrated Homecoming through its annual festivities, despite the COVID-19 pandemic still being in full swing. The day consisted of a parade, crowning ceremony and football game. Although each of these events had to be tweaked to abide by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) safety guidelines, the day remained special and safe for the Freedom community and seniors on the Homecoming court. 

Homecoming Saturday kicked off at 1 p.m. with a parade around the community, following the graduation route used last year for the 2020 senior class graduation. The Homecoming court was escorted around in their respective vehicles, while tossing candy and waving to bystanders. 

“I think we all felt a lot of love and support from our family and community. We loved the signs, kind words and getting to throw candy to the younger kids. I feel it was a great way to include the community while following COVID-19 restrictions,” senior member of the court Emily Ostrowski said. 

Directly following the parade at 2:30 p.m., the traditional crowning ceremony took place at Bulldog Stadium. The cheerleaders opened up the ceremony by reciting a few cheers to pump up the crowd. The “Big Red” Marching Band also made an appearance to play the National Anthem and Alma Mater. 

“It was so much fun and so exciting to hang out with my classmates again. I really haven’t been able to see a lot of them since March and it was a really positive and fun experience for all of us,” senior member of the court Courtney Grunnagle said. 

The 2020 Homecoming Court consisted of seniors Johnna Adams, Allyson Charlovich, Courtney Grunnagle, Madison Lewis, Lauren Lizzi, Karissa Mercier, Emily Ostrowski, Olivia Shaffer, Tara Speicher, Sarah Yeck, Cole Beck, Brett Boyd, Andrew Hodnick, David Martsolf, Zane Metzger, Brandon Pratte, Trent Schultheis, Paul Thompson, Reiker Welling and Ethan Wolfe. The Little Princess was Sophia Schultz, daughter of English teacher Catherine Schultz, and the Little Prince was Jasper Giammaria, son of English teacher Heather Giammaria. 

Each pair on court was introduced and recognized for their accomplishments and attributions to the school. After introductions concluded, the Class of 2021’s royalty was ready to be announced. David Martsolf and Courtney Grunnagle were crowned as this year’s Homecoming king and queen by last year’s king and queen, Maxwell Ujhazy and Baylee Stewart. 

“I was really surprised but it felt good to be able to have all of my family and friends there. Everyone really was so supportive and I appreciate everyone who was there,” Grunnagle said. 

At 7 p.m., the Homecoming court, along with the newly crowned king and queen, were reintroduced at the football game, followed by the “Big Red” Marching Band performing pre-game. Governor Wolf also reconstructed his spectator guidelines, allowing more fans into stadiums based on capacity limits. This was perfect timing, permitting more Bulldog fans to come together and celebrate homecoming. To add to that good news, the Freedom Bulldogs also clutched a victory with a score of 44-6 against the Ellwood City Wolverines. 

“It felt great to win, having more fans there made everything better as well, ” senior member of the court and Bulldog quarterback Cole Beck said. 

“It’s an experience I will never forget, it was fun and memorable! They also made the experience the best it could be. It was safe and we kept the community involved,” crowned king David Martsolf said. 

Even though this year’s Homecoming was unlike any other, many felt it still had that positive and excited feeling attached to it. This will definitely be an event the community will remember and look back upon for many years to come.