Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida, with my beloved Northwestern Wildcats playing against the University of Tennessee Volunteers. Despite the outcome of the game, with Tennessee winning 45 to 6, I enjoyed the overall bowl game experience.
First up in the festivities was a beach day on Dec. 30. Bands and cheerleaders from each school revved up the crowd with fight songs, pep tunes and cheers. Both bands wore T-shirts and shorts instead of normal uniforms, but Northwestern members also marched barefoot in the sand. Looked difficult but so fun!
On Dec. 31, we headed to Ybor City for an early evening New Year’s Eve parade. Though I originally thought the parade would be a quick one, it lasted about two hours with floats, vehicles and more than 20 high school bands. Just like for Mardi Gras, many of those walking or riding in the parade threw out beads, beads and more beads to be caught by the crowds.
The university bands and cheerleaders closed the parade and immediately assembled in the nearby parking lot for a joint pep rally. Once gain, they entertained the crowd with various songs and cheers, but this time, in an alternating battle of the bands style.
The next day was game day. The Northwestern University Marching Band and the University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Band each performed a typical pregame show with their respective block letters down the field. For halftime, Northwestern performed selections from various adaptations of “The Wizard of Oz,” and Tennessee performed its traditional “Tennessee Circle Drill.”
In pregame, the university bands were preceded by Marion (Ohio) Harding High School, which had been named as the field show grand champion during a competition earlier in the week. A mass ensemble with more than 2,000 high school band members and 500 student dancers closed out the halftime show with Elvis tunes.
Though perhaps a lesser-known bowl game, the Outback Bowl events certainly didn’t disappoint. And I’m sure that all of the high school bands and university groups concur that it was an amazing and memorable trip.
Keep on Marching,
Christine Ngeo Katzman
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief