When the Phillipsburg High School marching band got back to its hometown early Saturday, many of its members were ready to go to bed.
But their day was just beginning.
After watching the Phillipsburg Panthers beat the Hill City Ringnecks Friday night in Hill City, the band first drove 50 miles home, and then traveled more than eight hours to be a part of Kansas University Band Day in Lawrence.
"We even had to change bus drivers midway," said Stacy Overmiller, a Phillipsburg High senior and drum major of the school's marching band. "It's illegal for them to drive that long."
Phillipsburg is about 65 miles north of Hays. The Panthers' band was one of 68 bands from Kansas and Missouri that took part in KU's 44th annual Band Day Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
VIEWED FROM the stands, the halftime show at Band Day was an impressive spectacle. The field was carpeted with patches of red, blue, gold and black as more than 4,500 musicians, twirlers and flag-corps members performed with the Marching Jayhawks Percussion Corps.
Hundreds of trumpets, tubas and trombones played the KU fight song, "America the Beautiful," and others. For the bands, the performance was the high point of a day that began extremely early. Some band members, like Overmiller, never really went to bed.
"The aisle of our bus was jammed full of people sleeping," she said. "There were even people under the seats."
Although she got only a few hours of sleep, Overmiller still led the Panthers through their warm-up exercises when they arrived at Buford M. Watson Jr. Park to wait for the day's first event, a parade through downtown Lawrence, to begin at 9 a.m.
SHE LED the band as it marched through downtown, where crowds had gathered on both sides of Massachusetts Street. Clad in blue and gold uniforms, the 40 Panthers played their school's fight song as they marched between the Lansing Lions and the Grain Valley Eagles.
"That was exciting," Overmiller said. "We've played in Hays, but I've never been in a parade this big before."
About 11 a.m., the 68 bands were bused to the stadium, where they practiced marching and playing as KU band director Robert Foster conducted. Many wore jackets or sweatshirts over their uniforms to fight off the chill from a windy, 60-degree day.
Overmiller, who plays the flute, said the biggest challenge of performing with such a large group was keeping the tempo. And with so many other bands surrounding them, it was hard for the Panthers to keep their lines straight. Still, she liked it.
"AT HOME, with just our band, we can't make very much noise," she said, smiling. "But with this many people playing, it gets loud."
When the game started and Kansas began rolling over New Mexico State, Overmiller and her friends cheered, did the wave and quickly learned how to wave the wheat.
And when halftime finally arrived, the Panthers eagerly left behind their instrument cases to make their way down to the field.
Afterwards, Overmiller was pleased with Band Day. Although she was facing another eight-hour drive home, she said, "It was worth it."