Entire KU Band Day scrapped; many reasons cited for historic cancellation

photo by: John Young

Members of the KU marching band play the KU fight song while marching down Massachusetts Street during the annual Band Day parade in 2016.

For the first time in its 70-year history, the entire KU Band Day event has been canceled.

Over the years, the tradition has been for regional high school marching bands to converge on Lawrence and parade down Massachusetts Street. They would then perform at halftime during a home football game at Memorial Stadium.

On a few occasions, a portion of the event, such as the parade, has been canceled because of a morning football game. The halftime portion of Band Day has also been canceled. However, this is the first time that the entire event has been canceled.

photo by: Journal-World File Photo

In this file photo from Sept. 20, 2008, high school marching bands from Kansas and Missouri make their way down Massachusetts Street during the annual KU Band Day Parade in downtown Lawrence.

The decision to cancel the event took into account the rising cost of having a parade downtown and the push to cut expenses at the University of Kansas in the wake of an ongoing 6 percent budget cut at the Lawrence campus.

“The decision to cancel the event was based on the increased costs,” said Matt Smith, associate director of bands and director of the Marching Jayhawks.

“Other factors include increased logistical issues for Band Day, and declining participation from high school bands over recent years,” Smith said in an email Friday. He said he also learned that the football game’s kickoff would be at 11 a.m., meaning an early morning parade, “which sort of cemented the decision.”

In the past, the city fees for having a parade had been nominal, Smith said; this year, it had gone up to more than $1,000.

Mark Thiel, the city’s assistant public works director, said the cost of a temporary right of way permit, necessary for a parade, is only $50. But there are other fees associated with policing and renting barricades, though Thiel could not provide those amounts.

“We understand how much the community supports this event,” Smith said. “It was not a light decision; there are many moving parts.”

KU’s Marching Jayhawks will perform at the homecoming parade Sept. 27 and in the Lawrence Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11.

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