What’s a football game without the Marching Band? Boring at half-time at the very least. A great marching band will get the students, alumni and the crowd all fired up for the team, throughout the game. The best of them put on a great show pre-game and at half time. The Fighting Irish Band and the Highland Guard do just that. Did you know that Notre Dame’s Marching Band is the oldest University band in the US? We got to see the band give a pre-show for their families because my Uncle knew what time and where to go. The traditional Concert on the Steps! What a treat! I even geeked out and had my picture taken with the kids. They were all charming, and gracious to a fault. (courtesy being one of the more important elements of the Notre Dame Way) The camaraderie of the crowd was amazing. EVERYBODY knew the fight song of course, and everyone was singing and swaying to all the music. Seniors in the band were introduced by name ( I think this only happens at the first home game of the season, but it was touching to watch).
We also got to see the newest Highland Guards “recruits” go through their initiation inspection – and let me tell you it was rigorous in the 90+degree heat. (You try wearing a 100% wool uniform and kilt in that heat and tell me what happens. . .). One poor guy’s legs were shaking so badly he almost collapsed. They are supposed to maintain a stoic non reactive demeanor and have their uniforms and helmets perfectly adjusted at all times. 60+ young men at least 6’2” tall may try out but only a few make it. After inspection, former members of the Guard are allowed (ENCOURAGED!) to try and make the “newbies” laugh. This was quite enjoyable as you can imagine. Unfortunately we could not get through the crowd to get pictures of the Highland Guards from the front. The picture below shows two former members doing their best to make the new guys lose their composure. The second guy in from the left is the one we thought was gonna faint. Oh and you can’t see it but the new guys’ heads are shaved. . .
Once the inspection was done, my intrepid tour guides strongly suggested we head over towards the stadium behind the engineering and metallurgy buildings to watch the band process into the stadium. We lucked out and managed to find a shady spot under an arbor to wait.
Let’s Go Irish!
And here’s my Uncle, attempting to “hide” and cool off at the same time. .
And then. . . . it was time to head into the Stadium for the main event…… more on this later. . . .