Saturday is Band Day at Husky Stadium

Husky Stadium. (Photo: KOMO News)

By Bill Swartz

SEATTLE, Wash. -- It's one of my favorite University of Washington football games of the year, and for more than half a century, remains a popular event for thousands of UW football fans: High School Band Day at Husky Stadium. Celebrating 65 years, it is the longest running high school band event in the nation.

This Saturday 25 high schools from Washington State and one from Canada will join the Husky Marching Band for the pregame and half-time festivities. All told, there will be close to 2,800 musicians, cheerleaders and flag bearers on the field at one time.

Brad McDavid will climb the ladder with baton in hand to direct his 24th High School Band Day. "You know, I kind of like to say I'm like the pope up there, blessing the thousands," McDavid joked. "It is a lot of fun and the biggest recruiting day for us. We get a lot of interest in the University of Washington and becoming a member of the Husky Band."

Sheet music is sent to participants in June so the young musicians can start rehearsing to perform in front of an audience of 60,000.

With a broad spectrum of skill levels the songs must be easy enough to play, yet catchy to the ear.

"We try to find a variety of music that is not only going to be interesting to the high school bands but also to the fans in the stands. It continues to amaze me every year, I get calls from Husky fans saying what day is Band Day? They love the color and pageantry of Band Day, " said McDavid.

Computer models have replaced hand-drawn charts making it easier for McDavid and his staff to create entertaining formations on the field. When it comes to this many high school groups the goal is to get them on the field quickly, stand in one spot, then start and stop the songs all at the same time.

For me, the site of a giant United States flag unfurled to the strains of 'America the Beautiful' is always an emotional, goose-bump moment prior to the football game.

Kickoff for Saturday's contest between #6 ranked Washington and Fresno State is 6:30 p.m. Radio coverage begins at 1:30 with KOMO Kickoff on am 1000/ fm 97.7

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