WebGuy's Guide to Acceptance Day
As promised, here is some information we hope will make things easier for those coming to the Acceptance Parade. First, enter the Academy through the North Gate entrance. It is the closest to the Stillman Parade Field in any case.
The North Gate will open at 6:00am for Acceptance Day Parade for guests and the Parade is from 9:00 – 10:30 am. You will be able to spend lunch with your cadet from 11:00AM-12:50PM. Normal hours for visitors are 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. If you have a valid DoD ID, you may enter through either the North or South Gates. Click HERE for more USAFA visitor information.
Parking for the parade is in the Field House parking lot. There will be no shuttle busses provided. Guests will walk from the Field House up to the parade field. Wear confortable shoes! It is a bit of a hike. Remember the 7258 altitude! The elderly and handicapped guests will be allowed to park in the Stillman Field parking lot.
Next, where to sit... Here's a diagram of the parade. If you want to sit near where your Basic will be standing, just position yourself based on the diagram below. The colored boxes at the bottom correspond to their BCT squadron and flight. I figure you already know their color, the letter is the flight #. Once they march into the wing look for that squadrons location to find him/her when you are allowed out on the field to observe them receiving their shoulder boards. Based on the diagram, Barbarians Flight A will end up in Cadet Squadron 6. The gray boxes are where the Cadre and Cadet Wing leadership stand.
Next item. GET THERE EARLY. There is usually plenty of seating at the Acceptance Parade as opposed to Parents Weekend, but if you want to sit near your cadet's squadron, then get there early. The parade will start promptly at 9:00am, but there will be pre-parade activities for you to watch. Dress code is "be comfortable", but please remember that this is a military base, not the beach. Conservative dress is always wise. Wear confortable walking shoes. Keep in mind that you will end up walking in 2 inch high grass. Plan accordingly. Be prepared to have your carried items searched. The base is in a highened security condition.
DECORUM: People bring signs, wear colored shirts, etc. It is a festive occasion. That being said, be respectful. This is a military parade with the emphasis on Military. After the parade when the families are invited out onto the parade field it is always pretty much of a stampede. Remember that no matter how much you want to charge in and hug your cadet, they are NOT released until they get their shoulderboards and are dismissed by their squadron leadership. Don't embarass your cadet by your lack of self control. You will have plenty of opportunity to hug them once they are released.
FAINTING: Every year it seems the Basics pass out during the parade in record numbers, especially if it is hot. They are repeatedly reminded to hydrate and not lock their knees, but still it always happens. If it happens to your Basic, don't panic. You will see lots of personnel ready to assist them. Once the parade ends, they all still get their shoulderboards and are seldom worse for the wear. I'm not making light of this, just want to prepare you.
MEETING YOUR CADET: Appointees will be allowed cell phones but plan on meeting up on the parade field after the parade. You can watch them receive their shoulder boards, but don't interfere. Shoulder boards have to be put on by the Cadets, but parents are allowed on the field to observe up close.
HOW MUCH TIME?: Fourth-class cadets will be released from 11:00 AM-12:50 PM to visit with family/guests and may eat anywhere ON BASE. Non-cadet guests MUST pay $5.55 to eat at Mitchell Hall. The Mitchell hall meal will be buffet from 1100-1245. Pay attention to the time. Ensure you leave enough time for your cadet to walk you out of the secure area (if need be) and get back to their appointed duty location. SOME ADVICE: They will know where they need to be and when, let them manage you that day, not the other way around.
We at WebGuy are as excited as you to see the parade and the happy families. We will be there to cover the parade and will be circulating among the tailgates to take your photo and say hello.
WHAT IF IT RAINS?: Hopefully it won't, but when that has happened in years past, the shoulder boards are done in the squadrons. If there is lightning, then all bets are off. All I can say is follow the announcements and stay flexible.
EXPECTATIONS: Ok, this can be a sensitive subject, but here goes... I know many of you have banded together via your Facebook and other groups to make elaborate plans about group lunches and such. In past years we have seen everything. I have seen huge RV's pull up in the parking lots. Many of you have gone to a lot of work and you all have the best of intentions. That being said, please, please remember that this is your Cadet's day, not yours. Be sensitive to his/her needs and wishes that day. Some may not want something elaborate, even though you planned it. They may just want a little quiet time with you. Being flexible is always a good choice on this day. Just my two cents.
For those who can't attend, the photos will be up after the parade. To answer a question that is asked every year. We will not live stream the parade and we don't believe that Public Affairs does either. We don't have the facilities and they don't have the personnel. We will have lots of photos, however.
OK. I hope this info helps. Our photographers are out catching the Heritage Tours and other activites as they find them today. I'll be back later with with an update.
Bye for now.