Purdue Band upholds nine decades of tradition at Indy 500Thursday, May 19, 2011
Marching in the footsteps of 90 years of band students preceding them, members of the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band again take center stage at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 30, when they play for the race’s opening ceremonies.
Singer-songwriter Jewel, a three-time Grammy nominee, will sing “The Star Spangled Banner” with the band. Following tradition, Florence Henderson will join the band “America the Beautiful” and Jim Nabors will sing “Back Home Again In Indiana.”
Purdue’s band will also be featured in the 500 Festival Parade at noon Saturday, May 29, which begins at North and Pennsylvania and winds its way through the downtown Indianapolis. The Butler Bulldogs basketball team, 2010 NCAA national championship runner-up, will serve as grand marshal for the parade which includes more than a dozen bands, giant character balloons and a variety of personalities including the drivers in the 2010 Indianapolis 500.
The 500 Festival Parade was added to the race month activities in 1957 and the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band has appeared in every parade since then.
A crowd in excess of 250,000 is expected for the parade. There are stretches of the parade route that permit open viewing, but tickets can be obtained for bleacher seating, reserved chairs or VIP spots in the TV zone lining the route. Tickets range from $14.50 to $32 and can be purchased online at www.500festival.com/tickets
It was the marching band’s first director, Paul Spotts Emrick, who forged the initial relationship with the Indianapolis 500 in 1919, the race’s ninth year of existence. Always interested in promoting his band and Purdue, Emrick leapt at the chance to be associated with the young race that was quickly establishing an international reputation. In 2009, the Purdue “All-American” Band celebrated its 90th year of involvement with “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500.