To the editor:
High school band students in Lawrence and throughout Kansas and Missouri are gearing up for the 54th annual University of Kansas Band Day on Sept. 15. We regret that the parade had to be canceled due to a change in the Kansas vs. Wyoming football game start time. The fact is, Big 12 Conference schools are contractually obligated to accept TV network game time changes.
While we all enjoy the parade, there is a central feature of Band Day. The spirit and experience of Band Day are represented on the football field, when more than 3,000 students, representing about 45 bands, perform en masse in a special half-time show.
We hope the community will rally around the intent of Band Day: the gathering of bands, big and small, for a day of recognition that culminates during this spectacular half-time show. The students experience the thrill of performing during a Big 12 football game in Memorial Stadium. They also receive Band Day decals for their horn cases, and KU sends a color photograph of the group formation to each of the participating bands for framing.
Timing and coordination are critical when working with 3,000 high school students. Some groups travel great distances to participate in Band Day. Once all the bands arrive, a 90-minute rehearsal is held at the stadium. The field must be cleared two hours before the game in order for athletic staff to prepare for the game. During this time, the 3,000 band members eat lunch and find their seats throughout the stadium.
The coverage KU receives from the televised game benefits the entire university and Lawrence community. KU's 500-plus student athletes, who compete in 18 sports, benefit from the $335,400 that KU Athletics earns from the TV broadcast.
The KU Band works closely with the KU Athletics Department, which strongly supports the Marching Jayhawks and a variety of other KU Band activities. Twice previously the parade has been canceled in 1982 for television and in 1968 due to weather yet the Band Day tradition continues. We all regret having to cancel the parade this year but we look forward to the return of the full tradition next year.
Al Bohl, KU director of athletics
Thomas Stidham, KU associate director of bands
Timothy Oliver, director of the Marching Jayhawks
Robert Foster, KU director of bands