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Big night for U band, music programs

Members of the University of Minnesota Marching Band perform Saturday in the Willmar Senior High Gymnasium. The band, comprised of more than 300 musicians, performed two concerts during the event, now in its 52nd year. Some 4,000 people were estimated to have attended the shows. Submitted photo by Dennis Benson

WILLMAR — It was a packed house for both performances Saturday of the University of Minnesota Marching Band at the Willmar Senior High School.

According to a post on the band’s Facebook page, more than 4,000 attended the two performances, and more than five hours of music was presented.

There were corporate sponsors that helped make the concerts possible, and Jennie-O Turkey Store also announced on Saturday it was making $20,000 in donations to benefit music programs at Willmar Schools.

The marching band’s indoor concerts for the past two years were in Rochester for the past two years and Willmar played host this year because Northrup Memorial Auditorium on the university’s Minneapolis campus is undergoing renovation.

Nicknamed the “Pride of Minnesota,” the band originated in 1892 as the University Cadet Band and started doing halftime shows at Golden Gophers football games in 1910.

The band performs at all football home games at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, at the annual indoor concerts at Northrop Auditorium and in the homecoming parade down University Avenue on campus and also travels to an occasional football away game.