The largest number of high school bands in 17 years will march into Lawrence Saturday for Kansas University's annual Band Day.
The number of participating bands this year is so great that organizers have moved the starting time of the downtown Band Day parade from 9 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., in order to give the bands enough time to complete the parade and rehearse their halftime program before the start of the KU football game.
About 94 bands, ranging in size from 25 to 225 members, are expected to participate this year, said Tom Stidham, assistant director of KU bands and coordinator of Band Day.
"In 1976 we had 104" bands, he said. "But this is the most since that time."
Stidham speculated an increase in interest this year stems from a combination of the "right date" and an upswing for the KU football program.
"It's a little later than we've had it in most years," he said. "I think it's also because of the football team's success."
High school bands from as far away as Wichita, Topeka, St. Joseph, Mo. and Kansas City will participate. Also, the 312th Army Reserve Band, stationed in Lawrence, will take part.
The bands will gather in Buford M. Watson Park, Seventh and Kentucky, and march in a parade lasting from about 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
The parade route will be west along Seventh and then south on Massachusetts. The parade will end at South Park, where the bands will board buses, which will drive them to Memorial Stadium in time for a rehearsal of a halftime performance at the KU-Utah game. Kickoff is 1 p.m.
Streets along the parade route will be closed to traffic during the parade.
"There will be some little rag-tag bands with only about 25 members and there will be some that will be rather large," Stidham said.
"It's always interesting and fun to watch the variety of bands."
He said the weather is "the only thing that can throw a wrench" in Saturday's events.
"The last weather report I heard was that there was a slight chance of showers on Saturday morning," he said. "We're going to hope it's a very small chance."