Kent Boyd placed second in the televised national dance competition So You Think You Can Dance. Although the show talked about Wapakoneta being his hometown, he went to school in Botkins, so he actually had two hometowns rooting for him. Sorry this is about a week after it happened, but I hadn’t had a chance to get to it until now. I took several videos of the event and uploaded them to my YouTube account. If you’re interested in seeing them, I embed links to the different parts in this article.
The Welcome in the Middle of the Night
Kent came home in the middle of the night on Friday, August 13, and it sounds as if he received a warm welcome. People stayed up until 3:00 a.m. to light the way with flashlights, glow bands, lit-up signs and Christmas lights. I did not personally attend this, but I heard about it and saw pictures on Facebook. He was riding on a Fire truck with his parents in their vehicle behind him. It would have been neat to see, but I was too tired.
The Parade in Botkins
I did attend the parade and rally the next day, which was Saturday, August 14. It was supposed to start at noon, but exactly at noon it started to pour down rain. Even with umbrellas, the wind seemed to find a way to soak us anyway. After at least 30-40 minutes of on and off rain, it finally stopped enough for Kent to come through. By then, everyone’s signs were soggy, but it was all good.
A police car led the way, followed by a fire truck, Kent Boyd riding in a red convertible, his parents and sister riding in their SUV, and a truck with a huge wooden box decorated with Christmas lights and signs for Kent. Everyone went wild. Two little girls were standing near me and they kept saying, “Oh my God! It’s Kent!” Kent carried an American flag umbrella and had the biggest smile the whole time.
Being a small-town, slow-moving parade, people could just walk up and shake Kent’s hand, give him a hug or even just a high-five. People shouted words of encouragement and Kent always made sure to thank them. At one point he responded with something like, “You guys are just as famous as me.” Well, probably not, but thanks Kent. Kent didn’t seem to have a pretentious bone in his body. He just looked happy to be home. You can see videos here and here.
The Rally in Botkins High School Gym
After he passed by in the parade, everyone immediately walked over to the high school gym for the best seats. Keep in mind that it was a very hot, muggy day and we were all wet. Not a good combination. We crammed into the gym anyway, trying not to pass out from the heat. Aren’t wet jeans and tennis shoes the worst, by the way?
After we were all settled, it was announced that there would be another delay (presumably, so Kent could get a quick bite to eat). The band played some songs to entertain us, including “Hang on Sloopy.” If you’re not from Ohio, you might not know the popularity of this song. It is usually played as an Ohio State Buckeye rally song where people sing “O-H-I-O” and spell the letters with their hands. In this case, everyone spelled Kent instead as they waved the red, white and blue ribbons that were handed out. You can hear it here. You just have to love that small-town spirit.
Finally, the cheering started and I looked to see Kent and his family entering the gym, which can be seen here. There were then several speeches. I couldn’t tell you all of the names, but Kent’s dad thanked everyone and the mayor gave Kent the key to Botkins and said it would be known as “Boydkins” for that day. Someone from the school also thanked Kent for inspiring the students. His old boss from the Botkins pool where he was supposed to work as a lifeguard even “fired” Kent for not showing up to work, but gave him his CPR certification and a lifeguard t-shirt. You can see what I recorded before I ran out of memory on my camera here. Sorry for some videos cutting off, but I had to keep deleting stuff to record more. In this particular video, look for two funny things: a woman walking up right away and asking Kent’s dad to take a picture of her and Kent even though it was clearly not the time for it, and a little girl running up and throwing her arms around Kent’s legs. Too cute.
Finally, Kent gave a speech. Despite the microphone cutting in and out, he managed to give a pretty good motivational speech, saying that it doesn’t matter where you’re from; if you believe in yourself and work hard, you can do anything. He talked about being from a small town and how that set him apart from other contestants. He didn’t think he could compete with the people from big cities, but he was proven wrong. He said he would never forget where he’s from and thanked everyone for the support all season long. You can see him getting the key to Bodkins and his most of his inspirational speech here. He also talked a bit about the upcoming tour and how he wants to see familiar faces in Columbus, Ohio on October 24 here.
Later, he was back on the mike to dispel rumors about dating fellow contestant and winner, Lauren Froderman. He said that the rumors were not true; they were “just friends.” However, he didn’t stop there. He slyly said that she didn’t have a boyfriend anymore and it was okay that she won, because he thought she had a crush on him. I’m not sure if he was joking or not, but the crowd ate it up. You can watch this very short video here.
As he left the gym, it was announced that he would be signing autographs down the hall. The school hallway quickly became stuffed with people waiting to see Kent. I chose not to get an autograph. It’s not that it wouldn’t have been cool to see him, but I had to get ready for a birthday party and my wet feet were started to feel really icky. I did stop for a bit to watch a video of him dancing on the show. I also went around town some and took pictures of all the new signs. I had to stop when I realized I hadn’t had anything to drink in hours and was about to have a heat stroke. My aunt Mary called me later and said she had finally gotten through the autograph line after about an hour. This same aunt had told me earlier that her son played soccer with Kent and that they were supposed to hang out later that night. She knew Kent’s parents too. Crazy…it’s a small world.
One Last Thing
As an outsider who just moved into a temporary apartment for the summer while waiting to get a house, I can say that I was very impressed with Botkins. It is really just a couple of main, intersecting roads with a few roads branching off. I’m pretty sure it only has one traffic light, a four-way stop (well, I guess there’s another one a mile out of town). It is definitely small, but they showed a huge amount of support for Kent and everyone here was so friendly. Example: When my husband and I first moved here, we needed envelopes. We asked a couple walking by if they knew where to buy them in town. The man insisted on giving us some. He walked back to his place and gave us about 20 of them! We only needed one or two, but he said to keep them. This is what small-town America is all about. I was proud to associate myself with Botkins, if only for the summer. I’m sure Kent is also proud of Botkins and Botkins is definitely proud of Kent.
Did you miss my first slideshow of all the Kent signs in Botkins? See it here.
I’m hoping to upload another slideshow of the Homecoming parade, rally and additional signs, so keep an eye out. If you’re interested in seeing that, you can hit the “Follow” button by my name after going to my profile and enter your e-mail to be notified when I publish.
Source: Personal experience
To read more by Rita Oakleaf, click here.