In the Loop
General News : Sep 30, 2016

The Pride of the Sunshine – And Their Parents, Too

By Mandy McDade

The Gator Marching Band has long been an integral part of the University of Florida football tradition – in rain or shine, the band can always be found in their section of the Swamp, leading almost 90,000 people on with songs and chants. They are some of the hardest working students on campus, balancing schoolwork with the demands of countless practices, rehearsals, warm-ups, and games. They are the voice of the Gator Nation and the Pride of the Sunshine, and as the football team prepared to take on North Texas, they had some special guests in attendance: their parents.

Hosted by the College of the Arts, the Gator Band and their families were invited to a barbeque tailgate on the Reitz Union lawn. Over two hundred people attended the event, and mingled with friends and family before it was time for their students to march to the stadium.

Dr. Chip Birkner, the assistant director of bands, was also in attendance. He spoke to the parents, thanking them for raising such passionate and talented children.

“We have a tight-knit community here,” Birkner assured the parents. “We want to make sure everyone is looked after.”

After the event, many of the parents attended the game to watch their students perform. For some, it was the first time they had seen their student perform in the Swamp, an experience they will not soon forget.

Heather Dobbs, who is both an alumna and a parent of a member of the Band, said the most rewarding part of the weekend was sitting with so many other Gator Band parents.

“We swapped stories, showed off our kiddos to each other, and even shared cameras as we cheered the Gators on,” Dobbs said.

The Gators walked away with a sound 32-0 victory versus North Texas, and the parents of those in the most electric section of the stadium walked away with some great memories.