JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Before Raines and Ribault high schools took the football field Saturday afternoon for the 50th time in history for the Northwest Classic, hundreds gathered for a parade in Moncrief to show their pride and cheer on their teams.
"Fifty years! This is, like, one of the biggest parades we’ve had so far because we're celebrating 50 years of excellence, 50 years of community, 50 years of our youth," said parade coordinator Quen Sams.
Sams said more than 70 different groups came out to represent their teams.
Many were shouting and cheering as they lined the streets of Soutel Drive and Moncrief Road on Saturday morning.
Ribault High School kicked off the parade. Junior ROTC cadets, homecoming courts, marching bands, cheerleaders and student organizations for both the Trojans and Vikings showed their pride proudly at the parade.
"Even if we win or lose today, it’s still a big day that we have between Raines and Ribault," Leslie Bodie, Ribault varsity cheerleader captain, said. "It's a big rivalry, and we understand that it’s a big family, a neighborhood and one big community."
Torren Manning is Miss William Mariam Raines. She said for her, the event means she's part of the heritage and embedded history in Jacksonville.
"You see alumni come out, you see their children and the legacy of being a Viking, because I’m actually a third-generation Viking," Manning said.
It's not just a game, it's a week's worth of celebration, events, nostalgia and a lot of back-and-forth between fans of the two programs.
"Although we are two different schools, we're one community because we’re only 5/8 of a mile apart. It’s a good history and tradition to be a part of," Manning said.
People of all ages came out for the parade and celebration-- students, alumni, Duval County Superintendent Dr. Diane Greene, the community and children who will one day become Trojans or Vikings and continue the tradition.