The Pride of Arizona marching band starts home game hype early with community pep rallies for the Arizona football team.
The night before every home football game, the Marshall Foundation hosts “Bear Down Fridays” at Main Gate Square. Anyone in the Tucson community is welcome to attend the free event, which starts around 4 p.m.
Each Bear Down Friday showcases a variety of entertainment for the crowd. Fans can typically expect speeches from head football coach Jedd Fisch, Arizona Athletics Director Dave Heeke, ZonaZoo members and sometimes other University of Arizona coaches.
There are also several performances throughout the event from the school’s cheer squad and the Pride of Arizona, including its pomline and color guard.
“I like getting hyped up and seeing my energy being transferred to other people in the audience,” said Anna Knapp, an Eller College of Management student at the UA and one of the band’s piccolo section leaders. “The band being there is so, so important because we’re the energy and we get the people excited to be there.”
Before the performance begins, the band gathers outside of Centennial Hall to warm up with a musical exercise routine. Often, mascots Wilbur and Wilma can be found there taking pictures with fans and dancing along to the music.
“We have to make sure everything sounds great for the crowd,” said Kate Runyon, a sophomore tuba player majoring in math at the UA.
Once warmed up and tuned, the band begins playing music and marching down University Boulevard at 6 p.m. in a parade block.
After a loop around the often packed street, they split up into sections and run up onto several raised platforms framing the main Bear Down Friday stage. This is where they stay for the rest of the night performing and cheering.
“My favorite thing about performing during Bear Down Friday is having a good time with my friends,” Runyon said. “I get to be in the stands surrounding the stage with my closest friends and we all get to play music, chant and dance together.”
The Pride of Arizona has a Bear Down Friday tradition where the band performs a snippet of its show from that season, which is usually only seen on the football field during halftime or on Band Day in October.
This year’s show features “The Music of Silk Sonic,” the musical duo of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak.
“As far as the show goes, I think it’ll be exciting for the audience. It’s different from anything the Pride has played and it definitely draws in the attention of anyone watching,” Knapp said.
To close out each Bear Down Friday, a recording of the UA’s alma mater “All Hail, Arizona” is played over the speakers.
The first Bear Down Friday of 2022 is on Sept. 9, the day before Arizona’s home game against Mississippi State University.
Before then, however, the Pride of Arizona gets to travel to San Diego, California to cheer on the Arizona football team at its first game of the season on Sept. 3.
The Wildcats will be taking on San Diego State University at the school’s brand new Snapdragon Stadium.
This is the second year in a row the Pride of Arizona marching band will take part in the opening of a new stadium. Last year, the band traveled to Las Vegas to open the new Allegiant Stadium for Arizona’s game against BYU.
The fact that collegiate marching bands rarely travel with their football teams makes this second year occasion all the more significant.
“We will be performing some of our halftime show in San Diego,” Runyon said. “I’m super excited to march on an out-of-state field again.”
After completing its seven-day-long band camp the week before school started at the UA, the Pride of Arizona is ready to bring the spirit this season.
“I’m feeling optimistic about [this] season,” Knapp said. “No matter how well the team is performing, I know the piccolos and the rest of the band will show up and keep the energy up.”
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