Professional football teams may have been playing preseason games for several weeks now, and college and high school teams are making final preparations for their season-openers. But nothing, at least in Manhattan, heralds the onset of a new football season quite like the Purple Power Play in the Park.
Once held downtown and called he Purple Power Play on Poyntz, the event is now bigger and better a few blocks up Poyntz Avenue in City Park. Sponsored by more than 25 businesses and organizations, the two-evening affair brings families, Kansas State University students, nonprofit agencies, ample food and entertainment together like few occasions in the Flint Hills.
Purple Power Play has come a long way since 1988, when a handful of volunteers sought a way to welcome KSU students and generate excitement for a Wildcat football team that in those days wasn’t all that exciting. From the 200 or so participants who checked out that first Purple Power Play on Poyntz, the event has in recent years drawn 10 times that number, as well as dozens of booths stocked with information and plenty of good will.
Of course the entertainment finale both evenings will involve KSU pep rallies involving the K-State Marching Band, cheerleaders, Wildcat team members and Willie the Wildcat. And, as has become a spectacular part of the tradition, a fireworks display at sundown Friday will wrap the event up and set the stage for what will almost certainly be another successful football season.
After all, the Purple Power Play isn’t all that’s changed in the last generation. So have the Wildcats, who, under the guidance of head coach Bill Snyder, have risen from doormat into a perennial contender for the Big 12 Conference championship and a regular in postseason bowl games. In addition to having a number of players on both offense and defense named to “watch” lists for postseason honors, fans are sure to enjoy getting acquainted with some new Wildcats and watching them grow into veterans.
Kickoff for the season opener will be at 6:10 p.m. Saturday in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Also bigger and better, it promises to be packed and noisy as the Wildcats demonstrate some of their own purple power.
We hope to see you in City Park this evening or Friday evening, and we’ll look for you at the game Saturday.