The University of South Florida Herd of Thunder is doing some holiday traveling.
Herd of Thunder Director Matthew McCutchen said the band won't march at halftime of Thursday's bowl game - because it's a smaller group than they usually field to perform the routines. However, he said they're still very excited to represent USF at two places.
"We're disappointed that we're not going to be able to march at halftime at the bowl game, but we will be on the field playing, we will be in the stands, we will be loud, we'll be at everything they need us to do, we'll be cheering them on to victory, and meanwhile, we'll have a very good contingent over in Rome marching in the parade to get some international experience," McCutchen said.
And while the group heading to Birmingham can simply carry their luggage, but sending instruments, uniforms and even one of the Rocky the Bull costumes on the 5,000 mile trip to Rome takes quite an effort.
The band's office administrator, Jason Bombaugh, says more than two tons of gear were packed and shipped out two weeks ago - but the preparations started well before that.
"We've been working on getting these shipped out for months now in terms of collecting serial numbers and making sure that everything on the instruments matches the customs paperwork and those kinds of things," Bombaugh said.
Before marching in front of over 100,000 spectators at the New Year's Parade, the Herd of Thunder is scheduled to play that morning in St. Peter's Square - possibly with Pope Francis watching.
We'll have a recap of the Herd of Thunder's trip overseas on University Beat in January 2017.