The Kentucky State University marching band will perform during three parades as part of the Mardi Gras festivities Feb. 10-13.
The Mighty Marching Thorobreds will send approximately 140 band members to compete against some of the best bands in the nation, according to Alvin Level, director of bands at Kentucky State.
“This is the mecca for bands that march and play in the HBCU style,” Level said. HBCUs are Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Kentucky State is scheduled to perform in the Krewe of Tucks parade Feb. 10, the Krewe of Bacchus parade Feb. 11 and the Krewe of Zulu parade Feb. 13.
Joshua Patton, a junior trumpet player from Detroit, Michigan, said he’s never been to New Orleans or Mardi Gras before.
“This is a time of mass celebration and I’m glad to be able to participate,” Patton said.
For many students like Patton, it will be their first time at Mardi Gras.
“Many of the students have never traveled to New Orleans, let alone Mardi Gras, so that will be a memorable experience for them,” Level said.
A trip to Mardi Gras to perform has not been an annual event for the Mighty Marching Thorobreds, but Level hopes it will become one.
“We want to go down every year if possible,” Level said. “This is the first time Kentucky State has performed in the South at various venues such as this.”
Level has prior experience taking marching bands to Mardi Gras.
“As a high school band director, I would travel across the country with students to various events and competitions and Mardi Gras would be one of the venues I would travel to annually,” Level said. “There are high school and college bands from across the country.”
Level said Kentucky State University President M. Christopher Brown II also has experience with the marching bands at Mardi Gras. Together, they decided Kentucky State should be part of the competition.
“We finally get a chance to see some real competition,” Level said. “I am excited about my kids competing against the best bands in the country.”
Javiean Davis, a junior drum major from Detroit, said he’s most excited about the level of competition.
“Going up against Alabama State University and other major schools outside of our conference will give us unparalleled opportunity and obstacles,” Davis said.
Lord’Amani Cooper, a sophomore drum major from Detroit, has been to Mardi Gras before and knows what’s in store.
“The part I’m most excited about is that we have a chance to get the exposure we’ve been wanting all season,” Cooper said. “It’s our chance to show we are the little band with a big heart.”