On the day college football turned Lambeau Field into a frenzied sea of red, gold and purple, we looped our arms around each other and swayed. We polkaed and did the chicken dance, high-fived strangers and belted out a tune that John Philip Sousa called the finest college marching song.
We did all that with more than 80,000 of our closest friends because, scoring that historic and glorious football game, as it has been since 1894, was the incomparable Badger Band.
Like most Wisconsin residents, we’ve had enough interactions with the Badger Band to call them our own. We love the band’s traditions, high standards, reliability and sense of joy.
Here are five reasons we love the Badger Band. Please feel free to add your own.
- Band director Michael Leckrone who, like Peter Pan, never seems to age and needs no pixie dust to fly. If you haven’t done so yet, treat yourself to the Madison Spring Band Concert, during which the 80-year old Leckrone will sail over the sold-out crowd like a brass-buttoned super hero.
- The Fifth Quarter, or the party that never gets old. Game days are especially long for band members. The band rehearses four to five hours before kick-off, performs pre-game and halftime shows and then hosts a raucous open-invitation party after the game. All ages, all genders, all team affiliations join in the fun and tireless band members go the extra 100 yards to make sure everyone has a good time.
- Guest conductors. We’ll always remember the time Grandma Peggy climbed a temporary podium, held up her borrowed baton, and led Camp Randall and an amiable Badger band in song.
- Traditions. We love the Tuba March around the stadium, the varsity arm swing, the reversing of the caps and the “SSSSSS…BOOM…AHHHH…WHISTLE!”A grueling vetting process (described in a 15-page PDF) makes the Badger Band an intensely exclusive club. But its talented members consistently invite everyone to join in the fun. Sweaty band members once stopped at our house as they made their way back to their cars following an exhausting Flag Day Parade march. Told how much we admired them, they happily stopped and played us a few tunes, much to our entire neighborhood’s delight.
- The members. We’ve known a few and they are a kind, intelligent and cheerful bunch. Saturday afternoon at Lambeau, the band kept the south end zone rocking, played an outstanding pre and half-time show and still, a group of traveling trumpets and trombones, found time to make its way over to Section 120 to wish a Happy Birthday to my sister Kathy, a gesture that touched us all beyond measure.
Following a tremendous football game, and an exuberant Fifth Quarter, we made our way out of Lambeau Field and found ourselves marching right alongside the Badger Band. The accidental accompaniment and escort through the parking lot, across Oneida Street and up Mike McCarthy Way provided the perfect cap to an exceptional college football Saturday.
U Rah Rah! Wisconsin!
Just for funsies, here’s a video of our post-game, Badger Band escort to our car…
And the Badger Band and the rest of Lambeau enjoying Jump Around…