Making UHD History: Gigantic Ed-U-Gator Balloon Debuts
Mascot Raises UHD Profile in the H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade
By Marie Jacinto
UHD history was made on Thanksgiving Day! In his debut appearance, UHD’s alligator mascot—Ed-U-Gator—dominated Downtown Houston on Thanksgiving morning—and more than a million people witnessed the massive, 45-foot-tall balloon either on television or in person at the 74th Annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade.
While most people were still asleep, 70 UHD volunteers arrived before 6 a.m. at Houston City Hall to help Ed-U-Gator take to the streets, including UHD dancers and cheerleaders, Merit Scholars, Student Government Association leaders, Greek society members, sports teams, K-POP folks, and other UHD supporters.
A little cold and drizzle couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of UHD’s volunteers as they watched Ed-U-Gator become fully inflated with helium and tower above all other balloons. Soon, balloon handlers were holding the lines, and after an hour of practice on a side street, they converged with UHD’s dancers, cheerleaders, and drumline, which provided the beat for UHD’s “Parade Brigade” to chants of “U-H-D! U-H-D!”
Assistant Vice President of University Relations Debra McGaughey, who organized the making of the balloon and UHD’s participation in the parade, said, “The entire experience was challenging and exhilarating. Seeing the joy on the parade-goers’ faces as they looked up at our gigantic Ed-U-Gator was unforgettable. Yet the parade was over in a flash. I’m already ready for next year!”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.