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'Pride of West Virginia' to march into Universal Studios while at Gator Bowl

The West Virginia University Mountaineer Marching Band will march into Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 30, to perform a concert/pep rally along with the WVU cheerleaders, as part of the Gator Bowl trip.

The award-winning marching band, also known as ???The Pride of West Virginia,??? will play a few halftime show songs and some school standards at 10:30 a.m. in the ???New York??? section of Universal Studios in front of the ???New York Public Library.??? The WVU cheerleaders and Mountaineer will also perform.

The West Virginia University Mountaineer Marching Band will march into Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 30, to perform a concert/pep rally along with the WVU cheerleaders, as part of the Gator Bowl trip.

The award-winning marching band, also known as ???The Pride of West Virginia,??? will play a few halftime show songs and some school standards at 10:30 a.m. in the ???New York??? section of Universal Studios in front of the ???New York Public Library.??? The WVU cheerleaders and Mountaineer will also perform.

In addition, the band will march in the Gator Bowl parade on Sunday, Dec. 31, and perform in pre-game and halftime shows at the Gator Bowl on Monday, Jan. 1.

???The students are very excited,??? said Jay Drury, marching band director and assistant director of bands. ???We???re excited to be going to the Gator Bowl and play in the game, and we???re also very excited to have the chance to play at Universal Studios for the first time. We???re looking forward to interacting with WVU fans while we???re down there.???

Groups of 15 or more can get discounted tickets to Universal Studios to visit the theme park and see the concert/pep rally by calling 407-224-6851 and telling the operator they are WVU fans.

The best prices for single tickets are available online at universalorlando.com, according to Drury.

Drury said the band???s schedule for the trip will be full, but there will be some down time for members to relax and get in some sightseeing.

Some 350 members of the 370-member band and the cheerleaders and Mountaineer will leave Morgantown at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 28, in nine charter buses. There will be a brief stop in Beckley to pick up band members who live in southern areas of the state.

The group is slated to arrive in Jacksonville, Fla., at noon Friday, Dec. 29, and will go right to a two-hour practice, said Drury.

The next morning, the band will go to Orlando for the concert/pep rally at Universal Studios. Following that event, the band and cheerleaders will be invited to spend the rest of the day enjoying the attractions at Universal Studios. The group will head back to Jacksonville at the end of the day.

The band will rehearse Sunday, Dec. 31, in the morning, and then a pep band and the drum line will head to the Mountaineer Fan Center at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront Hotel to make a noon appearance.

At 1:30 p.m., the full band will perform at a WVU pep rally at Jacksonville Landing, an entertainment hub on the waterfront.

The next stop for The Pride will be the 3 p.m. Gator Bowl parade.

On Monday, Jan. 1, the band will head to the Gator Bowl tailgate party at the stadium, perform a five-minute pre-game show and five-minute halftime show.

???Then, after we beat Georgia Tech, we???ll get on the bus and head straight for home,??? Drury said.

The Pride is slated to return to Morgantown by noon Tuesday, Jan. 2.

This Gator Bowl trip will mark the first time the band wears their new uniforms at a bowl appearance. Last June, the WVU Foundation launched a $270,000 Band Aid Drive to raise funds for the purchase of 400 new uniforms. The drive raised $440,000, and the excess funds were used to purchase band instruments. The band made its first appearance wearing the new uniforms at the Sept. 2 season opener.

This year???s band is one of the largest in the history of the University. Most of the students in the band come from states up and down the eastern United States. The students are enrolled in various colleges at the university, and represent almost every major at WVU.

???The Pride??? has performed throughout the nation, from nationally televised bowl games to presidential inaugurations. During the past 15 years, the marching band has performed before more than 1 million people and has traveled to several major U.S. cities, including Tucson, Ariz.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Jacksonville, Fla.; New York City, N.Y.; Tempe, Ariz.; New Orleans, La.; Houston, Tex.; Birmingham, Ala.; Washington, D.C.; El Paso, Tex.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Columbus, Ohio; and Pittsburgh, Pa.

The marching band is known for its high-energy performances, outstanding musical arrangements and innovative drill moves. Because of its tradition of excellence, the WVU band was recognized in 1997 as the country???s outstanding collegiate marching band by being named the recipient of the 1997 Sudler Trophy, awarded by the John Philip Sousa Foundation.

The esprit de corps of the marching band and the enthusiastic response of the audiences to the sights and sounds of the band have made it one of the most respected organizations on campus. All these features contribute to the success of the ???Pride of West Virginia??? and show why it is considered one of the premier collegiate marching bands in the nation.

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