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‘Rolling Strong’ tour
Big Bass Drum’s
A five stop “Rolling Strong: Big Bass Drum 90th Birthday Tour” will take a beloved Purdue icon on a tour of classic Indiana high school football rivalry games in the fall of 2011.
“Sharing something that’s unique to Purdue, and very special to the hearts of all Boilermakers, with football fans of all loyalties around Indiana is our tour’s goal,” says Kathy Matter, Bands PR Director and Tour Coordinator.
The drum’s booming voice will ring out at some of this fall’s most hotly contested football rivalries including games featuring two teams that won class football championships in 2010.
In its own backyard, the Drum will greet fans at the Harrison vs. McCutcheon game which pits two Tippecanoe County rivals against each other on Sept 9 at McCutcheon High School. It’s been many years since West Lafayette High School has played Central Catholic, 2010 Class A State Champion, and the Oct. 14 game Central Catholic’s field is expected to be an epic battle.
The tour opens with two Indianapolis area games, both of which are expected to pack the stands with partisan fans. Hamilton Southeastern High School plays its county rival Fishers High School, 2010 Class 5A State Champion, on Aug. 26 at Fishers. Then, on Sept. 2, it will be on hand when Center Grove High School visits Carmel High School, a football rivalry listed on national websites as being Indiana’s most intense.
A northern stop completes the tour, with the Drum visiting the Merrillville vs. Valparaiso football game at Valparaiso on Sept. 30.
At all five stops, the Drum will be hosted by the band department of the home high school. It will be set up an hour before each game so fans can stop by, take pictures, meet the crew and ask questions about the Drum’s colorful history. It will remain available to the public through the third quarter at each game. Young children will be allowed to hit the drum.
Built in 1921 by Leedy Manufacturing of Indianapolis, Purdue’s Big Bass Drum easily doubled the size of any drum in the world at the time and maintained its “World’s Largest Drum” status for decades. The development of mylar in the 1950s, making synthetic rather than steer hide heads possible, made the creation of big drums easier. But, because they are expensive to build, challenging to store and hard to transport, the number of big drums remains extremely small.
Purdue’s maple-shelled drum is the original one built by Leedy. It has led a long and colorful life at Purdue University including some drum-nappings. Other the years many famous people have signed its heads from President Harry Truman to the first man on the moon Neil Armstrong, a former Purdue band member himself.
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