Lost amidst the noise of Wisconsin’s loss to BYU was a truly remarkable tribute to UW Marching Band director Michael Leckrone.
In celebration of Leckrone’s 50th and final season for Wisconsin, the UW Alumni Band came out in force Saturday.
“Ever since last year’s Alumni Band, people have been trying to say, ‘Let’s have a really big one for his 50th year, let’s fill the field,’ and that’s been kind of the slogan for this year,” UW band field assistant Janice Stone (‘89, ‘01) told B5Q.
A big one indeed. Over 500 former and current band members took the field Saturday, the largest-ever showing for the alumni band.
“I think everyone after last year—people didn’t know he was going to retire, but people knew it was the 50th year and so everybody just wanted to come back and show Mike how much he means to everyone and to celebrate his 50th year,” Stone said.
“It was very gratifying to see that many people come back. I got to see people from my first band here, right up through the latest,” Leckrone told B5Q. “It was just a huge kick. As I told someone on the field when I was watching rehearsal, I felt like my life was passing in front of me as I watched all those people.”
With so many in the alumni band present, fans were treated to an epic Run On that saw nearly the whole field covered by band members. Stone marveled at the scope before the game.
“It’s just so many people that we are doing our Run On in a slightly different way to get everybody on the field fast enough and it’s still going to take us so long that we’re only going to play ‘On Wisconsin’ and ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’ We have so many people that we’re just forming a block.”
It was a sight to behold, even for Leckrone himself.
“I particularly got a kick out of seeing the entire Alumni Band—there were well over 500—do the Run On,” Leckrone said. “That was a very special time. I liked to see all the people out there—it was a sea of former band members. That was a huge kick for me individually when that happened. I thought it was really very special. I think that was one of my favorite parts of it.”
In the midst of his final UW season, Leckrone is just trying to take it all in.
“It’s one of those things that you think about before it happens and when it actually does, you get very involved emotionally. That’s one of the things I talked to the band a great deal about, just making sure that you have pleasant memories, that you have a bunch of happiness that you can recall.”
Stone took his advice to heart.
“As an alumna, this has been the coolest reunion ever because I’ve seen people I haven’t seen in like 25 years. It’s really, really cool.”