The Clemson community will come together to celebrate the beginning of the school year and kick off the football season at the annual First Friday Parade on Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. The event — which features community groups, university departments, Panhellenic and service sororities, and other student organizations — precedes Clemson’s first home Saturday football game, set for Saturday, Sept. 7 at 3:30 p.m. against Texas A&M.

ROTC members display flags during the 2018 First Friday Parade

The First Friday Parade begins on Centennial Boulevard before ending at Historic Riggs Field on Sept. 6.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

The parade will follow a different route than it has in previous years. The parade route begins at Centennial Boulevard adjacent to the northeast corner of Littlejohn Coliseum. The route travels south on Centennial Boulevard, turns left through the north lot of the Avenue of Champions and left onto Williamson Road before turning right on Heisman Street and finishing at Historic Riggs Field.

Access to those roads will be limited to participants and spectators beginning at 5 p.m. for parade preparations. Cars parked on Centennial Boulevard, Ravenel Road, Williamson Road, and lots C-9, C-7, E-14, and E-5 should be moved prior to 5 p.m. Avenue of Champions access directly underneath the north stands of Memorial Stadium will be closed to prepare the security zones for Saturday’s game. Click HERE for more information about Clemson Area Transit (CAT) route deviations.

This year’s parade theme is “Setting the Stage for Greatness” and aims to highlight how alumni contributions to Clemson have fostered greatness on and off the football field. From school spirit to networking to packing Death Valley seven Saturdays during the fall semester, Clemson would not be the same without its vast alumni network.

Nancy O'Dell with Dabo Swinney at the 2019 Clemson Football Ladies Clinic

Nancy O’Dell, pictured with Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney at the 2019 Ladies Clinic, will serve as grand marshal for the parade. The television standout graduated from Clemson in 1990.
Image Credit: Clemson Athletics

Nancy O’Dell (’90) will serve as this year’s grand marshal. The Emmy Award-winning journalist has put together a noteworthy career as a host, author, producer and entrepreneur. She co-hosted “Entertainment Tonight” over the past nine years and “Access Hollywood” from 1996 to 2009. She has also contributed to “The Today Show”, “Dateline” and “CBS This Morning.” She was named one of Television Week’s “10 most bankable stars in syndication.” O’Dell has been involved in production with a series airing on the Reelz channel.

A native of South Carolina, O’Dell graduated summa cum laude from Clemson after graduating in the top 2 percent of her class. In May 2013, she was awarded an honorary doctorate degree during Clemson’s spring commencement.

Following the parade, the men’s soccer team will host UNC Greensboro at 7:30 p.m. at Historic Riggs Field. A pep rally will be held at halftime and the winners of the banner competition and Mister and Miss First Friday 2019 will be announced.

The Miss First Friday contest is a competition among student organizations to see which can raise the most money for its philanthropic cause. New this year, student organizations will also be fundraising to determine Mister First Friday. The First Friday competitions will be conducted through Central Spirit’s store within CU Marketplace. The contestants who raise the most money from donations on behalf of their organization’s philanthropic cause will be honored.