Dec 172009
Authors: K.C. Fleming

arching up Lake Street Wednesday night, as the CSU Marching Band’s music grew to a crecendo, approaching the entrance to the University Center for the Arts, so too did their visibility.

Outfitted with hats sprouting fiber-optic plumes and pants, lighted alongside seams, all powered by small battery boxes in their shirts, the musicians rehearsed this evening’s opening act of Denver’s annual Parade of Lights.

This year the marching band will make history as not only the first college band ever to participate in the parade but also as the largest band, with 240 members. High school bands have traditionally performed.

“This has been a dream that we’ve had for maybe a year and a half,” said Michele McKinney, the CSU System Board of Governors spokesperson.

“We wanted to feature the marching band, and knowing that they would be the first collegiate marching band in the parade, we thought that added a nice superlative to the participation.”

This year it is estimated that 300,000 people would attend the parade and about 350,000 more are expected to watch it broadcasted on TV. Tonight’s broadcast starts at 8 p.m. on 9NEWS.

“We like to be ambassadors for (CSU),” band Director J. Steven Moore said. “We like to spread the good word about CSU around the state.”

“I think this is one of those initiatives that probably is a very small investment for the benefit that you get,” he added. “Most people think of, you know, like football as promoting the university, and that’s a great thing … but it doesn’t just have to be athletics.”

Senior drum major Brittany Phelps said she is excited by the marching band’s progress over the five years she has been involved.

“I think through the last few years, the staff has really been more willing to go beyond, trying to get things to happen, and the leadership within the band is putting out their ideas,” she said. “Also, the interest in the band – people love the band, and we are getting bigger and bigger every year. Bigger and better, as I like to say.”

In October, the band was invited to play at halftime during a regular season Broncos game at Invesco Field at Mile High — the first time the band played for the team in the band director’s memory.

For the first time in program history, the College Band Directors National Association nationally recognized the band, along with five other university marching bands, for excellence and creativity in March.

The parade route starts in front of the main courthouse in Downtown Denver by Civic Center Park, and it will then continue in a loop ending at Glenarm Place and 14th Street. The route is about 2 miles long, and it will take the band roughly one hour and 15 minutes to complete.

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