Klinker, Indiana House celebrate Purdue Marching Band’s 100th anniversary at Indy 500

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INDIANAPOLIS – Representative Sheila J. Klinker (D-Lafayette) and Indiana House members today celebrated the 100th anniversary of Purdue University’s “All-American” Marching Band’s performing at the Indianapolis 500, which will take place this Memorial Day weekend.

“Each year, nearly 300 members of the Purdue University ‘All-American’ Marching Band from around the United States pay their own way to perform on the track of the Indy 500, the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’” Klinker said. “The band’s performance has become an essential part of the opening ceremony. Their performance thrills fans by building the sound, color, and emotion leading up to the start of the race.”

Klinker was accompanied by Jay S. Gephart, Professor of Music and the Al G. Wright Chair, Director of Bands and Orchestras; Mark Eutsler, Indianapolis Power and Light Indy 500 Festival Parade co-chair; Laura Bliss, Indianapolis Power and Light Indy 500 Festival Parade Director; Mark Jones, Purdue Bands Assistant Director; Aaron Yoder, Purdue Bands and Orchestras Director of External Relations; and Caitlin Benner, Purdue Bands and Orchestras Recruitment and Communications Specialist. Gephart introduced his colleagues to Indiana House members on the House Floor and spoke about the development of the relationship between Indy 500 and Purdue’s “All-American” marching band throughout the years.

Paul Spotts Emrick, the marching band’s first director, forged the initial relationship between Purdue and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the band’s first performance in 1919, three years after the first Indy 500 race.

Purdue University’s Marching Band has performed before the start of the Indy 500 every year since its first performance in 1919 and has appeared in every nationally televised 500 Festival Parade since 1957.

High school bands have been invited from across the Midwest to participate in the Parade of Bands with the “All-American” marching band before the start of the Indy 500 each year since 1922.

Gephart continues participation in one of Indiana’s most storied traditions held at the “Racing Capital of the World.”

“I want to thank the director Jay Gephart and band members for continuing a long tradition that has added to the rich history of Indiana,” Klinker concluded.

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