With six years of experience
behind them, the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band knows
how to pack for a bowl game.
In 2003 the destination’s
Orlando, but for band members the most important thing to pop into the
suitcase besides the uniform and instrument remains the same as it was
for the first bowl in Coach Joe Tiller’s string of seven.
“Camera and film,”
says Erin Genz, a senior from Colorado Springs, CO, without hesitation.
“I’ve got so
many great memories captured in my scrapbooks. I actually have entire
photo albums devoted to band trips because we do so many cool things
and I take so many pictures,” she says.
Photo ops for the band abound
at the Capital One Bowl. The band not only performs at the game but
energizes a Purdue pep rally with its music, marches in the Orlando
Citrus Parade, concertizes at Disney World and does a New Year’s
Eve gig and parade at Universal Studios.
Two planes take off from
the Purdue Airport on Sunday evening, Dec. 28, to carry the 320-member
marching band to its seventh consecutive bowl game. The Adams Mark Florida
Mall Hotel is the band’s official hotel, a fact they boast about
on their web site.
Band seniors, who’ve
been packing bowl bags for four straight years, don’t really know
what it’s like to spend New Year’s in the Midwest.
Tenor sax player Andy Meyer’s
dad reminds him of that all the time.
“I know I am extremely
lucky. After every game, my dad reminds me about all the years he watched
Purdue lose,” says Meyer, a senior from Fort Wayne. “I tell
him I was there too, watching the band which was the most exciting part
of the football game.”
Drum major Bob Shriner, a
senior from Mishawaka, was in those same stands. “I have been
a Purdue fans since birth and I can remember sitting in Ross-Ade stadium
during the early 1990s when a four-win season was rare. Being a part
of Coach Tiller’s era is great luck for everyone in the band now.”
Even though “camera”
was the No. 1 answer for most important item in the bowl suitcase, lots
of seniors had their own unique No. 1s. For Shriner, it’s his
whistle. “Without that, it would be a little bit difficult doing
parades,” he says, and the band does two parades this trip.
It’s probably not surprising
that Golden Girl Christy Stallings would say that No. 1 on her list
was bobby pins, brush and hairspray. Got to look super good at a bowl.
“Considering the environment,
I would have to say SWIMSUIT,” says an emphatic Chad Loewenstine,
a senior trumpet from Cincinnati, OH. Brad Rice, a senior clarinet from
Arlington Heights, IL, claims “the most important items to pack
are extra alarm clocks because there is nothing worse than waking up
Jelly shoe insoles, Chap
Stick and sunglasses also received No. 1 rankings.
Tuba player Alison Lawrence,
a senior from Wyomissing, PA, believes “the most important thing
to pack for the bowl trip is my cell phone. I like to call home frequently
to inform my friends and family about the fun we’re having. Another
important thing to pack is an endless supple of licorice. There’s
nothing better than licorice to tame the crazy tuba players.”
Dr. David Leppla, the band’s
director, says the Orlando schedule ranks as the most hectic since the
Rose Bowl in 2001. There’s a Disney World pre-parade concert scheduled
for 12:30 Monday, Dec. 29, the 23rd Annual Progress Energy Orlando Citrus
Parade at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 30, the official Purdue pep rally at
4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31, at the Orange County Convention Center, and
a 6 p.m. Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios the same day.
That night various pep bands visit alumni groups as they ring in the
Sandwiched around all the
activities are rehearsals and well-deserved free time.
Seniors know it’s never
easy to travel everyone with 300 plus people and eight buses. “Without
a doubt, flexibility is the most important trait to ‘pack’
for a successful bowl experience. Plans on bowl trips always change
– it’s part of the experience,” says Girl in Black
Krista Woodward, a senior from Waterford, MI.
Despite the festive atmosphere
that dominates bowl games, band members are always cognizant that they’re
working and the image they project defines Purdue for many who are seeing
them for the first time.
“Being so visible,
it is the responsibility of the band to uphold the reputation of Purdue.
Our satisfaction comes through knowing that we are representing Purdue
appropriately and making the alumni proud,” says Lawrence.
“A huge reward is the
energy and connection that you gain and make with other bowl travelers,”
adds Woodward. “Everyone is so excited to be there. If you pass
someone wearing a Purdue shirt on the street, it doesn’t matter
who they are. You have an instant connection and you can’t help
but smile and say ‘Go Boilers!’”
For seniors, who performed
two straight years at the Sun Bowl, the chance to check out a new stadium
“I adore moving into a new stadium,” says Genz. “The
grass is different in every stadium and the feel of the crowd is different.
The smells are all new and the whole experience is just a massive load
on all the senses.”
Indianapolis senior, and
baritone player Sara Schuch says: “When I step on the field at
a bowl game I am overcome by a sense of awe, to hear a crowd of that
size roaring when you enter the stadium or start your portion of the
halftime…it is just priceless.”
Stephanie Vahle, a member
of the Big Bass Drum crew from Seneca, IL, sums up the attitude all
band members, especially seniors, will take to the Capital One Bowl.
“You just have to give
it everything you have. For us seniors, it’s our last game as
a student at Purdue; and speaking for me, I will give it everything
I’ve got. You’re there supporting your school, why give
it anything less than 100 percent?”
NOTE: The Indianapolis
ABC affiliate will air the Citrus Parade at 8 a.m. Jan. 1. Other markets
should check local listings for date and time.