Purdue Band upholds nine decades of tradition at Indy 500
Marching in the footsteps of 93 years of band students preceding them, members of the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band again takes center stage at the 97th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 26, when they play for the race’s opening ceremonies.
Purdue’s band will also be featured in the IPL 500 Festival Parade at noon Saturday, May 25, which begins at North and Pennsylvania and winds its way through the downtown Indianapolis. Members of the Indiana Fever, 2012 WNBA Champions, will serve as grand marshals for the parade which includes more than a dozen bands, giant character balloons and all 33 qualified Indy 500 drivers.
Three members of the Fever have Purdue ties – Coach Lin Dunn, Asst. Coach Stephanie White and Fever star Katie Douglas were all part of Purdue’s Women’s Basketball program.
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. The 2013 parade will be televised live locally in 2013 by WISH-TV Channel 8 and nationally by NBC Sports Network.
On Race Day, the “All-American” Band will be the headliner in the traditional Parade of Bands that begins at 8 a.m. at the track. The Band will play at various areas of the track prior to participating in the opening ceremonies. As it has done for many years, it will accompany Florence Henderson in “America the Beautiful” and Jim Nabors in “Back Home Again In Indiana.”
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. At that time the band was a military unit of men enrolled in Reserve Officer Training Corps at Purdue.