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Archive for Sunday, September 26, 1999

BAND DAY TRADITION MARCHES ON

September 26, 1999

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Thousands of high school students carried on a musical tradition Saturday in Lawrence.

When Kansas University freshman Patrick McCarty stepped onto the field Saturday night during halftime of the KU-San Diego State University football game, the harness supporting his snare drum wasn't the only thing weighing on his shoulders.

The music education major carried with him years of tradition, following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps.

"Every now and then I'll be in Memorial Stadium, thinking, 'Wow, I'm the third generation here,'" said McCarty, son of Gary McCarty and grandson of Philip McCarty.

Earlier Saturday, thousands of high school and junior high school students marched through downtown Lawrence, later joining McCarty at the stadium for the university's 52nd annual Band Day halftime performance.

A pleasant breeze cooled the musicians Saturday afternoon as they marched from Seventh Street to South Park along Massachusetts Street, most clad in heavy uniforms.

McCarty, one of eight snare drummers on the 240-member KU Marching Jayhawks, spent Friday night at his alma mater, Emporia High School. His father, also a percussionist, is the band director there, and Patrick McCarty has composed music for that band for several years.

"I suppose if I went to a football game without being in the band, it would seem strange," Patrick McCarty said, unloading his drum from a truck near the Lawrence Public Library prior to the 1 p.m. Band Day parade.

Next Saturday, all three generations of the McCarty family plan to be on the field during the homecoming football game, when the elder McCartys -- both former presidents of the KU Marching Jayhawks -- join alumni band members. Philip McCarty lives in Nevada, Mo.

Adults and children lined the parade route as the bands belted out marches, but not all participants were walking.

About two dozen members of the Douglas County Senior Services New Horizons Band hitched a ride on a flatbed trailer. They played "College Life" and "High School Cadet."

"We're going to be academic today," said Paul Jordan. He plays clarinet in the band, which formed three years ago and meets every Friday for practices. Jordan's granddaughters, Lawrence High School students Diana and Kristen Jordan, also were in the parade.

Retired Lawrence dentist Forrest Brown, a saxophone player in the New Horizons Band, marched in the Band Day for Holton High School in 1938 and 1939.

"There's no pressure, you know," Brown said, minutes before the parade started. "Our salary isn't good and we don't get tips, but we have fun."

Some high schools found their bands reduced in size as other activities siphoned their members away over the weekend.

"We just took whoever we could get," said Jamie Smoller, first-year director of the Axtell High School Eagles marching band. Some sixth-graders from Axtell joined the high school students, bringing the group to a total of 28 musicians.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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