KU Band Day marches on, even without parade

Kansas University's horn section works the field during Band Day at Memorial Stadium.

Austin Long, of the Anderson County Bulldog Band, joined the drum line during Band Day at Memorial Stadium. About 650 students from high schools across Kansas and Missouri took part.

Marching band music boomed especially loudly from Memorial Stadium today as hundreds of aspiring musicians took the field with the University of Kansas Marching Jayhawks.

About 650 students from high schools across Kansas and Missouri joined the KU band for the annual KU Band Day. Playing traditional songs including “I’m a Jayhawk” and “Kansas Song,” more than a dozen bands performed as one. Though the band department uses Band Day as a way to meet and interact with potential students, Sharon Toulouse, associate director of bands, said the high schools that perform get the most benefit.

“They can see our band execute the drills with precision,” she said. “It’s the same skills their teachers have been preaching about.”

Coming to Band Day gives high school students a chance to see a large college band and experience playing at that level, Perry-Lecompton band Director Mike Maloun said.

“They get a lot out of being around the KU band,” he said.

The number of high school bands participating this year dropped, Toulouse said, because the traditional pregame parade, where high school bands march through downtown, was canceled. The early, 11 a.m. kickoff for the Louisiana Tech game forced organizers to cancel the parade. An NCAA rule that the field must be clear at least two hours before a game made holding the parade unfeasible.

“It’s sad,” Toulouse said. “The small schools especially enjoy the parade because the crowd is so supportive.”

No parade and the early kickoff caused 11 bands to drop out, leaving 15 of the original 26 high schools. Toulouse said schools from further way had trouble making the early game while others, such as Baldwin High School, had too many students participating in other morning activities. Lawrence High School and Free State High School usually participate in the parade, but not the halftime performance, Toulouse said.

This isn’t the first time the parade has been canceled, but Toulouse said the university wants to prevent it from happening again.

“Nothing is set in stone yet, but we’re working on a plan,” she said.

A highlight of the day came at halftime when the Marching Jayhawks unveiled a model of their new uniforms. Current uniforms feature black hats and pants, but the new style will return the band to the traditional crimson and blue colors, said associate director of bands Matt Smith. The new design updates the logo and fonts to the current style the university uses. Some uniforms have “Kansas” written across the front while others have a large Jayhawk. The band would like to raise $300,000 and have the uniforms ready by the 2014 season. Sketches of the new style and a link to donate can be found at www.kubanduniforms.com.