Blue Band schedule packed with performances, practice

A main fixture at Penn State football games has to be the Blue Band, and bowl games are no exception. The Blue Band flew into San Antonio on Thursday, and got busy entertaining fans almost immediately.

"The buses left the East Deck (on Penn State's University Park campus) at 7 a.m., and brought us straight onto the tarmac at the airport," said Andy Colwell, a freshman trombone player. "We flew in a 737 from University Park straight to Texas."

Upon arrival, the band checked into the hotel, got some lunch, and then prepared for their first performance of the trip: the Alamo Bowl Pep Rally at the Arneson River Theatre on Thursday evening. From there, they had dinner and then made their way to the Alamodome for a nighttime practice.

"The sound there was really cool," said Stephanie Shoffner, a freshman mellophone player. "It's going to be loud at the game on Saturday. They're still going to have sound reverberating there even after we leave."

Colwell was surprised at the relative small size of the Alamodome, compared to Penn State's Beaver Stadium. "It seats 65,000 people … it reminds me more of Holuba Hall than Beaver Stadium where we have more than 100,000 fans."

Another thing that surprised Colwell was the style of the Texas A&M Band, which along with the Blue Band played at the Wells Fargo Alamo Bowl Kickoff Luncheon on Friday afternoon. "They're very different from our band. We played in our warm-up suits. They were in full military uniform, and played all marches. They have a very big sound."

Colwell and Shoffner already have some favorite memories of their first bowl trip as Blue Band members. "The pep rally last night was great," said Shoffner. "It was a lot of fun to see JoePa talk and to be playing in a boat on the river."

Colwell also enjoyed the pep rally, but found the city itself to be his favorite part of the trip. "I love being in a city that has a lot of character like this one. The river has its own personality. You float past warehouses, hotels, shops, restaurants and houses, all right near each other.

Both are looking forward to marching into the Alamodome and doing pregame on Saturday. "It may be the same program, but it's always different for us because it's a different stadium and a different crowd," they said.

The crowd that will fill the stadium on Saturday night was busy checking out the sights on Friday. Many took boat rides on the river, toured the Alamo and visited the many shops along the river and surrounding area. On Friday evening, many Penn Staters made their way to the Institute of Texan Cultures for the Presidents' Reception, hosted by Penn State President Graham B. Spanier and Penn State Alumni Association President David C. Han.

For photos, check http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/1521 online.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010