Dec 012010
Authors: Emily Johnson

Colorado State University’s marching band will be playing a unique tune this year in Denver’s annual 9News Parade of Lights on Friday. It’s the only university from Colorado to participate in the event and the band to lead the parade.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Christopher Nicholas, the director of bands.

This is CSU’s second year participating in the event. All 260 members, and CAM the Ram, will be adorned with lights when the kickoff begins at 8 p.m. in front of the City and County Building grandstands. The band will begin with its signature trombone suicide performance in front of about 400,000 viewers.

Along the two-mile route, the band will stop to play a 90-second special performance in front of CSU’s Denver Center.

“We have a huge alumni base in Denver,” Nicholas said. “They will be in the stands waiting for us.”

The Denver Center will host a special reception at 6 p.m., including hot chocolate, snacks and bleacher-seat views of the parade. After the parade, the marching band will perform at the Center.

Nicholas said planning for an event like this is huge, “from outfitting everyone with lights to planning down to the second with 9News.”

Michele McKinney, director of Denver Public Relations and Business and Community Development has been very involved in making the band’s participation in the event a reality, working with the parade committee for several years requesting approval.

“Normally only high school bands participate, but we finally were approved and last year was a great success,” she said. “We’re starting a tradition.”

McKinney said this is one of many events planned to increase the engagement with alumni and donors, as well as exposure of CSU in the Denver area.

Last night, the band executed a full dress rehearsal at CSU’s University Center for the Arts. Open to the public, the practice parade made it’s way through the streets around the UCA, beginning on Lake Street between Peterson and Remington. The CSU fight song and Holiday songs like Winter Wonderland could be heard throughout the neighborhood.

Kira Puntenney, a senior flute player and co-section leader of the flute/piccolo
section, said the best part of participating in the parade will be performing for a broader audience.

“Instead of the audience being our dedicated Ram fans, we are performing for all of
Denver as well as being broadcast to even more viewers,” she said. “It makes our presence at the parade a positive representation of Colorado State University.”

Putney is especially excited about the band members being decked out in twinkle lights.

The band donned more than 1,000 strands of lights, which required more than 2,000 AA batteries, more than 15,000 bulbs collectively and could be seen glowing two blocks away.

“260 people all wearing Christmas lights pinned to their pant legs and plumes is a sight worth seeing,” she said.

Staff writer Emily Johnson can be reached at

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