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USF Band Preps For Two Trips

The University of South Florida Herd of Thunder is doing some holiday traveling.

More than two hundred members of the marching band are headed to Alabama Tuesday to back the football team at the Birmingham Bowl.

Then, on Wednesday, over a hundred of their fellow band members will be flying to Italy to march in the Rome New Year’s Parade.

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.

Credit Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News
WUSF 89.7 News
Instruments are packed, ready to be loaded onto a truck to be taken to the airport and shipped to Rome.

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.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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