At 11 a.m. Saturday, K-State’s president Kirk Schulz’s driveway began filling with Manhattan High School marching band members. They had arrived to dress, eat and warm-up before a full day of performing.
For the musicians, the clouds in the sky were met with relief. As they suited up in their elaborate uniforms, they knew they wouldn’t boil all day long.
First, the band marched with more than 30 other junior and senior high school bands in a parade through downtown. Then they appeared on the field at Bill Snyder Family Stadium during Saturday’s football half-time show.
The occasion was Band Day, which brought bands from across the state to perform for a sold-out crowd of 50,000 spectators at the K-State v. North Texas game.
For the show, the bands performed “Sweet Caroline,” “Jenny,” and “Build Me up Buttercup,” along with “God Bless America,” “1812 Overture” and “Wildcat Victory.” School dance teams, twirlers and colorguard were also featured.
About 150 students represented Manhattan High School alone. They scattered across Schulz’s front yard prior to the 1 p.m. parade, fixing their uniforms, preparing their instruments and finding their sheet music. The colorguard members practiced their formation while the twirler threw her baton and the dance team did their stretches.
Band director Joel Gittle said members were excited to get on the field with 2,000 musicians and play for 50,000 people.
Gittle said the band has practiced every morning for about 40 minutes, using performances at the high school’s sports games as practice for the big event.
They were the first school band to appear in the parade, directly following the K-State marching band.
The drum majors for the band, Anna Brokesh, Andrew Schulz and Matthew Scott, all seniors, echoed their own excitement for the day, with Brokesh saying it’s always a good bonding experience.
It is Brokesh’s second year as a drum major, but the first Band Day for Schulz and Scott . “It’s an awesome feeling to be leader of the band,” Scott said.
Schulz said he enjoys finally being in front of the band and being able to hear everything playing toward him. He may have felt the intensity more than the other band members since he is the son of Kirk and Noel Schulz. That, plus the fact that the parade began in Aggieville before winding its way to Manhattan Town Center, made the president’s home a good rendezvous point for the band.
Before they became drum majors, Brokesh played saxophone, while Schulz played trombone and baritone, and Scott played, in his words, “the best instrument of all,” the tuba.
As they warmed up, Scott said he was excited to play the Wildcat Victory song, as it will one day be his fight song. He plans to major in music education at K-State.
Brokesh also plans to attend K-State, majoring in biological systems engineering. But, as a fan of 60s music, she was most excited to play “Build Me up Buttercup.”
Schulz, on the other hand, is planning on going away for college to major in mechanical or chemical engineering.
The other participating bands warmed up near the president’s house in the parking lot of the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art. Those included bands from area schools such as Junction City, Rock Creek, Riley County and Blue Valley, as well as schools from more distant cities including Ellsworth, Bucklin and Udall.
It was a long day for the bands, as they marched in the approximately two-mile parade through Aggieville to the Manhattan Town Center, at 1 p.m. and were required in the stadium at 3 p.m. for an hour long rehearsal prior to the 20 minute half-time show.
But Brokesh, Schulz and Scott agree that being a part of the band has been nothing but beneficial for them. It builds discipline, encourages camaraderie and makes you smarter, they said.
Gittle, who has been involved with the band for years, played percussion when he was in school. He also participated in sports, but said, band “was the group to be in.”