More than 500 former Sun Devil Marching Band members will hear their music echo from the buttes again this Saturday during a special alumni performance marking the group's 100th anniversary.
The reunion will come during halftime of Arizona State University's Homecoming game vs. the University of Washington; the alumni will perform by themselves and then join the current Sun Devil Marching Band, for a combined size of more than 850.
"It should be a pretty impressive sound,” said Travis Breedlove, an organizer of the alumni event.
"I sometimes wish I would be sitting in the stands to hear it.”
The Tempe Bulldogs Marching Band was founded in September 1915 by Lillian Williams, its first director.
Saturday’s show will pay homage to that history with a medley of songs the band has performed over the years, including “We Are Family.”
“And that’s fitting because we really are a family,” said Breedlove, who played tenor saxophone in the Sun Devil Marching Band from 1993 to 2000.
“We all put on that really hot uniform and marched on the field in front of thousands of people.
“On Facebook, we counted how many people had found their spouses in the band, and we’re over 100 people.”
He said the oldest alumni band member who is coming is from the class of 1967, and that former members will be arriving from 29 states and Japan.
Since Williams a century ago, the marching band has had 12 directors, including James Hudson, who has been director since 2006. The longest-serving director was Robert C. “Coach” Fleming, who led the band from 1974 to 2001.
Breedlove has organized the event with Bridget Arenson of the Sun Devil Club. A special logo was created, seen below, that will be on the T-shirts the alumni band members will wear.
He said that getting enough instruments for everyone to play on Saturday has been a scramble, with urgent requests to bands and bugle corps all over the Valley.
“We started out needing 16 Sousaphones, and now we’re down to needing two. It’s not like anyone owns a marching Sousaphone,” Breedlove said.
“We’re really hoping no one is hornless.”
The alumni band has rehearsals scheduled for Friday night at Tempe High School and for early Saturday morning before the game. A picnic is planned for Sunday.
Breedlove said the members are excited to be out on the field and performing again — something not all returning alumni get to do.
“The football players don’t get a chance to play another game, so this is a great opportunity for us to be together again.”
For a time-lapse of the band performing, click here.
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