Band alumni and students rock Bulldog Stadium at Homecoming
Angela Salinas / The Collegian
In honor of Fresno State’s centennial celebration, alumni and current marching band members put on a show at Bulldog Stadium for the homecoming day celebration on Saturday during halftime.
According to Dr. Tim Anderson, Director of the Marching Band, 140 marching band alumni members participated by performing at halftime. Alumni from the past 30 years were also represented in the band.
This is an increase from the estimated 40 marching band alumni who usually return to perform at the homecoming game. The increased participation was due to the excitement surrounding the centennial celebration.
Preparation for the centennial homecoming celebration began years ago, according to Anderson.
Since becoming marching band director in 2005, there was some discussion about what the marching band was going to do for the centennial year.
However, serious discussion began two years ago about how the marching band would contribute to the homecoming game’s halftime show.
The Centennial committee and the Music Department decided on a composition written by alumnus John Bliss, titled Centennial Tribute. The song was played first at homecoming.
Bliss was chosen because of his music accomplishments since graduating from Fresno State. A slideshow showing pictures from the last 100 years was shown while the song played.
Following the song, the band played a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” arranged by alumnus Robert Nelson as they marched into the shape of a large birthday cake. Timeout, the mascot, was their conductor. A large birthday cake was brought onto the football field while the band finished playing the song.
The combined bands performed special pieces during halftime for a crowd of 32,000 people. Marching band alumni wore special t-shirts commemorating the centennial celebration.
For many alumni the centennial was a good excuse to come
out and play their instruments again.
Alexis Holladay, a marching band alumnus, was one person who used the centennial as an excuse to come back and play.
“I had always wanted to come back and play, and this was the perfect opportunity to,” said Holladay.
Two other alumni, Christina Ledak and Stefanie Shuldt, return every year to play during the homecoming halftime show.
For these three women, seeing how the marching band has changed over the last few years was interesting. Each of them recalled the traditions that they participated in while they were in the band. One such tradition that they were surprised to see still done was a saxophone handshake that they did as band members.
According to Anderson, the marching band began preparing for the football season when they received a copy of the schedule. Due to the increase in the number of home games this year, the marching band was busy rehearsing the music for each game. It wasn’t until September that the marching band and alumni were able to start rehearsing the music for the homecoming game.
“We had one day to rehearse with both alumni and band members,” said Anderson.
Both groups practiced as two separate groups until Saturday when they were joined together for one last rehearsal before they performed in both the homecoming day parade and halftime show.
Time was cut even shorter due to the homecoming day parade featuring both groups. The current marching band members opened the parade with the spirit squad. The alumni in their special centennial shirts were featured on a float near the end of the parade.
For current Fresno State Marching Band member, Mitchell Ross, the preparation and performance with alumni was very exciting and touching.
“Fresno State has so much history that it’s very exciting to be a part of the [marching] band during this time, it makes it more fantastic to have alumni here during the centennial.”