Performing at Super Bowl XLII

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By Janel Healy

Imagine performing in front of a packed crowd during the Super Bowl. Students from the Arizona State University Sun Devil Marching Band, the Willow Canyon High School Wildcat Marching Band from Surprise, Ariz., and the Glendale (Ariz.) High School Marching Cardinals lived this dream on Feb. 3, 2008.

During pregame, the Sun Devils performed for a completely packed stadium, and the high school students (40 from Willow Canyon and 35 from Glendale) held up tall flags to create tunnels that the football players ran through onto the field.

“Being that close to the players—seeing the sweat on their faces—and seeing all the cameras flashing was pretty cool,” says junior Brandon Downs, tenor player from Willow Canyon.

The Willow Canyon and Glendale students also acted as the field audience for the pregame show by Alicia Keys; they interacted with her at a rehearsal beforehand, then cheered and danced just below the stage during the show.

During Tom Petty’s halftime performance, students created special lighting effects in the darkened stadium. The college participants slowly spun a gigantic black tarp covered in fluorescent paint—referred to as “the nebula”—while the high school students waved extremely powerful flashlights (each one was worth $3,000).

Shawn Kelly, the Super Bowl casting director, feels that he made a good decision when he asked these three bands to participate in the inner workings of the pregame and halftime performances. For who could crew the Super Bowl better than marchers, who are completely comfortable working on a football field?

Photo by Brad Dunn. All rights reserved.

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