The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) has invited all Band alumni back to the Farm for Homecoming this weekend to honor their contribution to 50 years of music, spirit and tradition on Stanford’s campus.
Aimed at honoring the student group’s colorful history and reuniting a substantial alumni network, the reunion is a product of a multi-year collaboration between current staff and the Band Alumni Board.
“My favorite part of events like these is when two people who haven’t seen each other in two decades are able to feel like they’re right where they left off— which in our case may be in the middle of the football field,” said Yanessa Lasley, who coordinated the event.
Lasley tackled registration, event communication and game-day logistics leading up to this weekend, all on top of a full-time engineering job in San Francisco. She is not a Stanford alumna, but agreed to help organize the event because she has a large number of friends that are or were in Band.
“The hardest part has definitely been communication,” said Lasley, who has fielded dozens of emails a day in preparation. “We have a lot of people asking a lot of questions, and it’s been hard to make sure everything gets answered.”
Over 500 former LSJUMB members are expected to attend the reunion. When friends and family members are factored in, attendance may reach close to 800 individuals.
“The number is really astonishing,” said Hal Mickelson ’71, an alumni coordinator who has remained closely involved with the Band since joining as a stadium announcer in 1969. According to Mickelson, the assembled Band population may exceed that of many class reunions also taking place this weekend.
The reunion festivities kick off Friday night with an alumni banquet at the Decathalon Club in Sunnyvale, Calif., where a slideshow of 50 years of LSJUMB history will accompany an evening of dining and dancing. Saturday’s football game against UCLA is the main event of the weekend, followed by a LSJUMB alumni tailgate.
According to Molly Cain ’15, one of the Band’s alumni relations chairs, any alumnus who wants to play alongside current students at the game is welcome to do so. While many plan to attend only the Friday evening event or the post-game tailgate, the staff anticipates around 400 extra bodies on the field Saturday.
To prepare alumni for the halftime show during Saturday’s football game against UCLA, music and formation rehearsals are planned for Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.
Along with Cain and the rest of current Band staff, three volunteer coordinators—Lasley, Kimberly Myers Hewlett ’99 and Tanicia Perry ’99 — have helped direct the reunion’s planning.
Additional help came from ex-LJSUMB members on the reunion subcommittee of the Stanford Band Alumni Board, which functioned as an advising group for the students throughout the organizing process.
Though he stressed that the volunteer coordinators and student staff handled most of the responsibility for the reunion planning, Greg Louden ’89 M.A. ’90, chair of the Band Alumni Board, has had this weekend on his mind for years.
“At one point, I looked up and thought, ‘Wait a minute, we’re five years away from the 50th anniversary of creating the modern Band,’” Louden said.
With this in mind, Louden and other Band Alumni Board members adjusted their planning efforts after the 2007 reunion. Rather than stick to what was a typical schedule of one reunion every four years, they elected to shift plans to allow for a reunion exactly 50 years after the group’s beginnings.
The fall of 1963 was the beginning of a momentous year for LSJUMB, as it marked the Band’s transition to the nontraditional music, dress and attitude that define the group today. The Band went on strike after the former director was dismissed, and returned in a new form after a tumultuous transition period under new director Arthur P. Barnes DMA ’65.
“It’s going to be very interesting to hear the music,” added Louden, when asked about what excited him the most about the weekend. “To hear that thick of a sound, to hear that many people playing some of the tunes you normally hear with 50 or 100 people…that will really be something.”
According to the coordinators, the total cost of the reunion weekend will exceed $100,000.
At this point, it is unlikely that the Band will profit from the event, but Band members young and old say that the event is worth it.
“Since joining the Band I have met a number of hilarious and talented friends,” said Hillary Anderson ’14, one of LSJUMB’s current alumni relations coordinators. “I feel lucky to be a part of a celebration to honor the long, chaotic and highly entertaining history of our band.”
Contact Dania Marinshaw at daniam ‘at’ stanford.edu.