Emma Hope spoke for many in the crowd at Saturday’s homecoming parade when she expressed her affection for Montana State University.

“I love the Bobcats to infinity,” the four-year-old said.

She and her brother, Asher, 7, were most excited for the candy, a staple at any parade. Their parents, Shane and Nicquo, were happy to be supporting their alma mater, especially since the sun was shining.

“It’s a nice day, and the kids can see everything and get into the school spirit,” Shane said.

School spirit was another staple of the parade that preceded the Bobcat football game against Sacramento State.

People clad in blue and gold lined the sidewalks downtown from Seventh Avenue to East Main. MSU’s Spirit of the West Marching Band led a nearly 50 float procession with Champ and played the fight song. Band members’ metallic gold shoes were particularly reflective in the bright morning sun.

The theme of this year’s parade was “Honey, I’m Home,” which translated into a number of bee-related puns, costumes and decorations dispersed throughout. The theme guided the design of floats made by MSU’s fraternities and sororities.

Politicians running for Congress and statewide and city offices passed out stickers, shook hands and carried banners. Local businesses also took advantage of the chance to advertise. MSU clubs and organizations participated, like the ski team members who raced around cones in roller skates.

MSU President Waded Cruzado cruised downtown in a convertible from a previous century.

There are always a few odds and ends at each parade. On Saturday, a guy drove a motorized dumpster up and down the street, the “fanbulance” was there for those bleeding blue and gold, and Town and Country Foods passed out apples instead of candy.

For the second year in a row, MSU named Homecoming Ambassadors instead of royalty. Nine students nominated in three different categories (leadership, service and involvement) stood and waved from the beds of pickups driving down Main.

Marianne Brough, director of student engagement, said MSU wants all students to feel included in the homecoming festivities no matter their gender identity.

“We want homecoming to not be about what gender you are, but about the characteristics that Bobcats embody,” Brough said.

Brough said having ambassadors encourages students to make good choices and be active on campus.

The ambassadors were recognized at halftime of the football game, the culminating event of the weekend.

Shaylee Ragar can be reached at sragar@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2607. Follow her on Twitter @shay_ragar.

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