A day of fun for 2,000 high school musicians

By Corene Brisendine

High school bands from around the state and elsewhere converged at Kansas State University Saturday to participate in the annual Band Day parade and football game performance.

More than 2,000 musicians from nearly 30 high schools as close as Manhattan High and as distant as Peculiar, Mo. took part in the activities, which included a parade route revised from the traditional one down Poyntz Avenue due to construction.

Instead, the bands marched through Aggieville to City Park before heading to Bill Snyder Family Stadium to entertain during the Wildcats’ 37-7 victory over Massachusetts.

Paul Howe, Mulvane High School band director, brought his ban din the hope they’d have fun and mingle with other band students.

“We haven’t been here in a long time,” he said. “I just wanted the kids to come and have fun.”

One Mulvane student, Aaron Dillon, was particularly interested to see whether there were any other male flute players on hand. For no particular reason, the instrument tends to be perceived as the province of females. Dillon said he saw one, but he hadn’t had a chance to catch up with him before the parade. He said he decided to play flute in sixth grade because it seemed like a fun instrument. He said it was difficult to learn at first, but now he is confident in his ability and plans to continue playing it through high school.

Shannon Perry, bass clarinetist and senior at Mulvane, liked talking to other band students.

She said her mother can’t remember the name clarinet, and refers to her daughter’s instrument as a “licorice stick,” an old slang term for it.

Although Perry is used to marching during half-time, she was surprised at how tiring it was to walk and play in a parade. The parade this year started at Triangle Park, marched down Moro Street and followed 11th Street to Poyntz Avenue. From there it marched down Poyntz Avenue to 14th Street where it turned and followed 14th Street back to Triangle Park. The normal parade route goes from Triangle Park to the Mall at Third and Poyntz.

Lizzi Horsley, French horn player and senior at Mulvane, came to see what it would be like to be in the band in college. She said if she wasn’t graduating this year, she would love to come to Band Day again.

All the band members cheered when Howe asked whether they were having fun after the parade.

Howe said there are 101 students in the Mulvane High School Band, which includes flag girls and dancers. Like many of the bands, they range from freshmen to seniors, and it marches during half-time shows at Mulvane.

Mulvane is about two and one-half hours drive from Manhattan, but Howe said he was impressed at how well organized the day was. He said he would definitely consider coming back to Manhattan. The bands spent Saturday morning learning the music and practicing where they were to march on the field during half time. When the parade ended at 2:30 p.m., all the bands loaded up their buses and headed to Bill Snyder Family Stadium where they would get another chance to practice before the game, which began at 6 p.m.

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